January 18, 2018
Monday, February 10, 2014

UK minister: Malvinas' islanders 'are British because they have chosen to be so'

The British government minister responsible for the Malvinas Islands began his first visit to the contested territory today.

Hugo Swire, minister of state at the British Foreign Office, began a four-day visit today and said: "The people of the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands are British because they have chosen to be so." In a referendum last year, 99.8 percent of the some 3,000-strong population voted to remain a British Overseas Territory.

Swire will meet local lawmakers and officials to discuss the Falklands economy and will visit cemeteries where those killed in the 1982 conflict on both sides are buried.

In a message to the islanders published via Penguin News - the archipelago's only newspaper - Swire said Argentina's refusal to include the islanders in any talks about their home was "doomed to failure".

"A nation of some 40 million pressuring a community of 3,000 in the 21st century is not an edifying sight," he said.

"Let me be clear and unambiguous: if the Government of Argentina believes that hostile rhetoric and threats against the livelihoods of the Falkland Islands people will pressure the UK into negotiating the sovereignty of the Falklands - above the heads of the people whose home it is - then it is sorely mistaken."

Daniel Filmus, Argentina's Secretary for the Malvinas Question, issued a response to Swire via his country's embassy in London.

He accused Swire of speaking with the "characteristic high-handedness of the colonial tradition that he upholds", and Britain of wanting to "pillage the wealth of hydrocarbons, minerals, fish stocks, water and biodiversity that belong to 40 million Argentines.

"Herein lies the reason for having established a disproportionate military presence. As Argentines, we shall continue to use all legal and diplomatic means available to defend our riches," he said.
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Tags:  Malvinas  islands  British  Argentina  conflict  dispute  

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