Thirty years after the invasion of the Falkland islands, David Cameron reaffirms Britain’s role in “righting a profound wrong” while veterans and relatives of the deceased attend a memorial service.
David Cameron said that today is a time for “commemoration and reflection” of those who died among the Argentine forces, as well as the British.
The Argentine leader General Leopoldo Galtieri ordered a dawn invasion of the islands, known as the Malvinas by the Argentines, on April 2 1982.
Margaret Thatcher, British prime minister at the time sent a task force to reclaim the islands. The 74 day conflict resulted in the deaths of 639 Argentinean soldiers and 255 British troops, as well as three Falklanders.
“Today, we salute the heroism of the Task Force which set sail to free the islands,” said the prime minister.
“We are rightly proud of the role Britain played in righting a profound wrong. And the people of the Falkland Islands can be justly proud of the prosperous and secure future they have built for their islands since 1982.”
Relations between Argentina and Britain have been strained in the run up to the 30 year anniversary. The Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said the UK’s decision to send one of its most modern navy warships to the South Atlantic, and to post the Duke of Cambridge on military duty in the region was a sign of Britain militarisation of the row between the two countries.
In December, some south American countries imposed a ban on ships sailing under the Falklands Islands flag, from docking at their ports.
Mr Cameron in return said that the Buenos Aires administration was guilty of “colonisation” and effectively imposing an economic blockade.
British war veterans and relatives of those who died during the war attended a memorial service at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire [see above]..
Reverend Vic Van Den Bergh led prayers for peace between the UK and Argentina and asked the congregation to remember all of those who died in the conflict.
A single candle was lit at the altar and will stay alight for 74 days – the entirety of the 1982 war.
Marking the 30th anniversary, the prime minister said: “Britain remains staunchly committed to upholding the right of the Falkland Islanders, and of the Falkland Islanders alone, to determine their own future.
“That was the fundamental principle that was at stake 30 years ago: and that is the principle which we solemnly re-affirm today.”
In an article in the Daily Telegraph on Monday, Foreign Secretary William Hague said that Argentina’s recent aggressive actions were “deeply regrettable” and that the government’s statements “have impressed few people, including in South America”.
“We should remind the world that in the years since their liberation the Falkland islanders have repeated – without qualification or equivocation – their wish to keep their constitutional status, their national identity, and to live peacefully with their neighbours in Latin America,” he added.
“As long as the people of the Falklands continue to express that view, the UK will defend and support their right to do so.”
Argentine troops have been holding a vigil in the southern port of Ushuaia for the troops who died in the war. President Fernandex is expected to visit the port on Monday.