No doubts about our sovereignty the Prime Minister tells Falkland Islanders.
”We will continue to discuss with Argentina issues of mutual concern and benefit to your community, building on recent meetings over shared fish stocks, the Continental Shelf and de-mining, but let me assure you, there is no lessening in our commitment to your security, sovereignty or right to self-determination.
We have no doubt about our sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and their surrounding maritime areas. This position will not change unless you, the Islanders, decide otherwise."So concluded a Christmas radio message to the Falkland Islands by the British Prime Minister, the Right Hon. Tony Blair, recorded for the BBC World Service's Calling the Falklands programme and broadcast, islands-wide, by the Falkland Islands Broadcasting Service.
Earlier in the programme, Mr. Blair had commented that the Falklands faced some tough financial decisions in the year ahead following this year's disappointing squid fishery, but had noted the flagging of new vessels on the Falklands register as an instance that there was still "plenty of confidence" in the future of the Falklands fishing industry.
Another sign of confidence in the future and a welcome symbol of reconciliation, said Mr. Blair was the completion, this year, of the monument to the Argentine war dead at Darwin.
2004, said Mr. Blair was a year in which efforts to diversify the Falkland Islands economy were deservedly reaping rewards; the agricultural sector had strengthened, while oil exploration projects also held out the prospect of positive benefits to the economy.
The past year was also one in which the Falkland Islands far-sightedness in protecting what the Prime Minister described as "your wonderful natural environment" had also paid dividends. As well as forming the basis for the success of tourism in the Islands, the important work to protect the future of marine wildlife, including such threatened species as the albatross, which had been done both by the Falkland Islands Government and the non-governmental organisation, Falklands Conservation had "highlighted global concerns over this key environmental issue" said Mr. Blair.
The Prime Minister also expressed the hope that the tourism industry of the Falklands would benefit from the successful hosting of the Regional Meeting of the British Commonwealth Parliamentary Assembly in February. This not only demonstrated the importance that Falkland Islanders placed on parliamentary democracy, but also gave representatives from many countries an opportunity to see for themselves "the unique charm of these islands".
This meeting, and the representation of the Islands in the Commonwealth Youth Games in Bendigo were, said Mr. Blair, just two of the ways in which the Islands "continue to reach out to the wider world."
John Fowler (MP) Stanley