Saturday, 22 December 2012

Falkland Islanders have historic opportunity to 'seize' their own destiny, Cameron says

-PM uses Christmas message to urge islanders to use referendum in March to decide their own future
-Poll will decide whether or not to remain UK territory
-David Cameron also accuses Argentina of misrepresenting history

David Cameron today urged the people of the Falklands to see off the threat posed by Argentina and secure their own future.

The Prime Minister used a Christmas message ahead of a referendum on sovereignty of the islands planned for March to challenge the Argentinians for 'misrepresenting' Falklands' history.
And he said the referendum was a chance to show the world 'what you want for your future'.
The poll is designed to fend off increasingly aggressive Argentine claims to the islands Buenos Aires knows as Las Malvinas.

Falklanders will be able to say whether or not they wish to continue as a UK territory.
Mr Cameron restated Britain's commitment to self-determination for the Falklands and made clear he hopes they will vote emphatically to retain their links to the UK.

He accused Argentine president Cristina Kirchner of ‘misrepresenting’ the facts about the Falklands in her campaign to reopen the sovereignty question, and said her stance represented a challenge to islanders' identity and economic wellbeing.

Mr Cameron's message came as the Queen appointed a new Governor for the Falklands.
Tensions have been mounting between Britain and Argentina over the claim to the islands, thirty years after Falklands War.

Just this week Britain's decision to name a part of Antarctica after the Queen was met with fury in Argentina.

An unnamed official in Buenos Aries said calling the vast disputed territory – twice the size of the UK – Queen Elizabeth Land is a ‘systematic attack within the context of the fight over the Falkland Islands’.

And in June this year Mr Cameron was involved in an extraordinary stand-up row with Argentina’s president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner when she tried to hand him documents about her country’s claim to the British territory.

Mr Cameron refused to accept the package at the G20 summit in Mexico, and insisted that she respect the views of the islanders, who want to remain British.

In today's festive message, the Prime Minister said: ‘I value deeply the UK's relationship with the Falklands and hope it will long continue. But it is not my decision, nor is it Argentina's, it is yours and yours alone.

‘This referendum is true democracy in action, an opportunity to show the international community what you want for your future and to show it definitively. I hope all of you seize it.’

He went on: ‘I'm always conscious that you, the people of the Falkland Islands, continue to face a particular and direct challenge both to your economy and to your identity as Falkland Islanders.

‘President Kirchner's government appears determined to argue that you should have no say in how you are governed. They continue to misrepresent the history of your islands and the current realities of life there.

‘It is a pity that Argentina persists in behaving this way. The UK would like to have a more positive relationship with the government of Argentina.

‘We are stepping up our engagement with Latin America more generally. And there are so many global issues we could work on together.

‘But the British Government will not stand by and allow your human rights to be ignored. There is no justification for any country to try and deny you the right to democracy and self-determination, nor to make attempts to isolate you, block your trade and undermine your legitimate fisheries, hydrocarbons and tourism industries.’

Colin Roberts will take up his posting at Government House in Port Stanley in April 2014, replacing current Governor Nigel Haywood.

A career diplomat who served as the Foreign Office's director of the Overseas Territories until earlier this year, Mr Roberts said: ‘I'm delighted to be appointed as Governor of the Falkland Islands and HM Commissioner for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

‘I am a great admirer of the achievements of the people of the Falkland Islands. I look forward to working with the community and their elected representatives for a secure and prosperous future.’
The appointment comes after the death last month of former governor Sir Rex Hunt, who was expelled by the Argentines during the 1982 invasion and was hailed by Mr Cameron in today's message as ‘a brave man and a dedicated public servant’.

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