14 Jun 2012

UN appearance for Argentina on Falklands anniversary

As the Falkland Islands marks the 30th anniversary of the end of the war, the president of Argentina goes to the United Nations to press her country’s claim to the islands.

President Crisitina Fernandez will attend the annual meeting of the United Nations’ Decolonisation Committee to say that there should be negotiations on the future of the Falkland islands, which Argentina claims as its own. The little-known committee has never been addressed by a head of state before, and Ms Fernandez is expected to appear with a significant retinue of supporters.

‘An insult’

By contrast the Falkland islanders, who recently announced that they would be holding a referendum next year to express their own opinions on their future sovereignty, are sending two members of their Legislative Assembly supported by six young islanders.

They hope to give a message to Ms Kirchner and the Argentinian delegation that the South American country’s attitude to Falkland Islanders is an “insult” to the generations of families who have forged a life there.

Argentina claims that Britain has illegaly occupied the islands that they call the Islas Malvinas since 1833. Britain disputes Argentina’s claim to the islands and says Argentina is ignoring the wishes of the 3,000 residents.

Thirty year anniversary

Argentina’s 74-day military invasion of the remote British Overseas Territory ended on 14 June 1982 as Argentinian commander General Mario Menendez surrendered to the British at Stanley, after Margaret Thatcher sent 27,000 troops and more than 100 ships to repel the Argentinian occupiers.

Prime Minister David Cameron marked the anniversary and pledged to continue defending the Islands from Argentinian “aggressive threats”.

Just as we have stood up for the Falkland Islanders in the past, so we will in the future. David Cameron

Mr Cameron said he hoped the decision by the Falkland Islands government to hold a referendum on their future sovereignty would end that dispute “once and for all”.

The prime minister said: “It’s a time to pay tribute to the 255 UK servicemen who paid the ultimate price so that the people of the Falkland Islands could live in peace and in freedom.

“And it’s a time to express our huge debt of gratitude to all those servicemen who showed such astonishing courage to recapture the Islands.”

In a swipe at Argentina, he added: “For the last 180 years, 10 generations have called the Falkland Islands home and have strived hard to secure a prosperous future for their children.

“And despite the aggressive threats from over the water, they are succeeding.

“The Falklands economy is growing, the fishing industry is thriving and tourism is flourishing.

“Next year’s referendum will establish the definitive choice of the Falkland Islanders once and for all.

“And just as we have stood up for the Falkland Islanders in the past, so we will in the future.”

Read more: Why are the Falkland Islands British?

In Stanley – the capital of the Falkland Islands – veterans, widows, politicians and Falklanders will take part in a commemoration service.

The service will be attended by Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne who said the anniversary would be a mixture of “celebration and commemoration”.

“People are very proud of the achievements of the British armed forces,” Mr Browne said.

“The Falkland Islanders themselves were obviously coerced into a political arrangement they didn’t wish to have 30 years ago and they are enthusiastic about celebrating their liberation from that.

“It is also a commemorative event and it’s a balance about people being pleased on the Falkland Islands about the outcome of the war but also a more sombre reflection on the sacrifice on both sides.”