Argentina is trying to impose an economic blockade on the Falkland Islands, said Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne who made plain clear that the people of the Falklands are free to determine their own political arrangements and were not to be part of ”some sort of trade-off” over their heads.
Browne is leaving on Sunday for the Islands to attend the 30th anniversary of Liberation Day, marking the end of the South Atlantic conflict when Argentine forces occupied the Falklands during 74 days before they were expelled by a British Task Force, precisely on 14 June 1982.
However Argentina in recent years, particularly with President Cristina Fernandez has escalated diplomatic and international pressure plus implementing measures to curtail the Falklands economy by threatening fishing and oil companies, and impeding the development of tourism and communications in the Islands.
“It is pretty clear that Argentina is behaving in a domineering way by seeking to put an economic blockade in place... to impoverish an isolated community with about 3.000 people, said Browne.
Argentina has been turning away cruise ships carrying the British flag and has also said oil exploration by five London listed companies off the Falklands was illegal and clandestine. This was a classification that, according to the Argentine government, paves the way for immediate criminal proceedings.
Browne said he was disappointed at the Argentine government's recent actions over cruise ships and British oil companies.
Argentina with a population of about 40 million people, seeking to put an economic blockade in place which will... impoverish an isolated community with about 3,000 people, said the Foreign Office representative.
Likewise Browne asked Which party in this arrangement are behaving in a domineering way and who are the vulnerable population who are having to make their way in the world, despite a much more powerful country going out of their way to make that harder for them?”. He underlined, I think that it's pretty clear cut.
We believe that the people of the Falkland Islands should be free to determine their own political arrangements, their own destiny pointed out Browne saying they were not to be part of some sort of trade-off over their heads.
Last year, President Cristina Kirchner accused Prime Minister David Cameron of mediocrity bordering on stupidity when the UK prime minister said the Islands should remain a British territory if that was what its inhabitants wanted.
Looking ahead to his four days in the Falklands, Browne said that the Liberation Day service would be a mixture of celebration and commemoration.
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, Browne told reporters. On April 2, 1982, the then-ruling junta in Argentina invaded the Falklands, with a final cost of 649 Argentine and British troops’ lives plus three Islanders.
It will be in part a celebration because people are proud of the achievements of the British armed forces, Browne said.
The Falkland Islanders themselves were obviously coerced into a political arrangement they did not wish to have 30 years ago and are enthusiastic about celebrating their liberation.
But it's also a commemorative event and an opportunity for sombre reflection” on the sacrifice on both sides concluded Browne.
Besides Foreign Officer Browne and over twenty journalists and several television crews, the list of dignitaries includes Gibraltar Minister for Enterprise, Training and Employment Jose Bossano; Minister Keith Brown MSP, Minister for Housing & Transport, Scottish Parliament; Richard Collas, the Bailiff of Guernsey; Lt Gen Sir James Dutton KCB CBE and Lady Dutton; President South Atlantic Medal Association; Murdo Fraser MSP and Mrs Emma Fraser, Member of the Scottish Parliament; Kerry McCarthy MP Shadow Foreign Office Minister; David Melding AM Deputy Presiding Officer, Welsh Assembly; Senator Paul Routier MBE Assistant Chief Minister Jersey; Neil Hopkins and Mrs Judy Hopkins Principal Peter Symonds College and Sarah Stannard Vice Principal Chichester College