UK to Argentina: 'hands off' Malvinas
In an advert published exclusively in today's Herald, leading British tabloid The Sun admonishes President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner with a “Hands off!” from the Malvinas Islands, in response to the Argentine president’s letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, published on Wednesday in several British dailies.
The text followed a similar rejection of Fernández de Kirchner’s letter yesterday from Cameron himself, who insisted that the future of the islands “should be determined by the Falkland (Malvinas) Islanders themselves.”
The Foreign Office also provided a response to CFK’s letter with a spokeperson stating that “the people of the Falklands are British and have chosen to be so,” while a member of the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly, Dick Sawle, published a statement in which he took “the opportunity to clarify some points raised by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.”
Former Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana expressed his support for “keeping (the issue) high” on the agenda, insisting that “the British will sit to negotiate when they realize that not doing so will be the more costly option.” Taiana's was the sole vocal statement coming yesterday from the Argentine Foreign Ministry. Minister Timerman has been silent lately.
Cameron was adamant that “whenever the (Falkland/Malvinas) islanders have been asked their opinion they have said they want to maintain their current status with the United Kingdom.”
The islanders are expected to vote overwhelmingly in favour of the existing arrangement in a referendum in March.
“I hope the president of Argentina will listen to that referendum and recognize it is for the Falkland Islanders to choose their future,” Cameron said, adding that “as long as they choose to stay with the United Kingdom, they have my 100 percent backing.” The Foreign Office was no less explicit when a spokesperson said yesterday that the islanders “remain free to choose their own futures, both politically and economically, and have a right to self-determination as enshrined in the UN Charter. This is a fundamental human right for all peoples.”
“There are three parties to this debate, not just two as Argentina likes to pretend. The Islanders can’t just be written out of history,” insisted the spokesperson, adding that “there can be no negotiations on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands unless and until such time as the Islanders so wish.”
A statement from legislative assembly member Dick Sawle was published on the Falklands Government website yesterday following comments made by fellow member Barry Elsby to The Telegraph on Wednesday night. “It is disappointing that today the Government of Argentina is once again ignoring the rights and wishes of the Falkland Islands people. The open letter sent by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to David Cameron is not only historically inaccurate, but fails to mention the most significant aspect of our recent history the attempt by the Argentine Government to take away our home by military force when they invaded thirty years ago,” begins the statement.
Sawle then proceeds to “take the opportunity to clarify some points raised by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner” on behalf of the islanders.
“The Falkland Islands had no indigenous population prior to their settlement by our ancestors; the Islands were unoccupied. Argentina claims the Falkland Islands form part of the province of Tierra del Fuego an area that was not claimed as a part of the Republic of Argentina until after two generations of Falkland Islanders had been born and raised in our Islands.”
“There is no truth to Argentine claims that a civilian population was expelled by Britain in 1833. The people who were returned to Argentina were an illegal Argentine military garrison, who had arrived three months earlier. The civilian population in the Islands, who had sought permission from Britain to live there, were invited to stay. We are not an implanted population. Our community has been formed through voluntary immigration and settlement over the course of nearly two hundred years. We are a diverse society, with people from around the world having made the Islands their home,” continues the text, in which Sawle states that “as a modern, self-governing Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom, we enjoy a relationship based on the shared ideals of democracy, freedom and self-reliance. We are not a colony of the United Kingdom; we are a British Overseas Territory by choice, which is something entirely different. We are not governed by Britain: we are entirely self-governing, except for defence and foreign affairs. We democratically elect our Legislative Assembly Members; they are chosen by the people of the Falkland Islands to represent them and to determine and administer our own policies and legislation. In March we will be holding a referendum on our political status, so that as a people we can make our views heard in a clear, democratic and incontestable way.”
The Sun in its advert today, published on Page 5, echoed this statement, insisting that “the islands have never been governed by or formed part of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Argentina. Until the people of the Falkland Islands choose to become Argentinian (sic), they remain resolutely British.” “In the name of our millions of readers, and to put it another way: “HANDS OFF!”
Herald with DyN, Reuters, The Sun, The Guardian, Falklands Legislative Assembly