A delegation of Falkland Islands lawmakers made a round of visits to European capitals and the European Union to inform on the recent referendum results in which an overwhelming turnout and vote indisputably decided the Islands wanted to remain as an Overseas Territory.
Members of the Legislative Assembly Jan Cheek and Roger Edwards stopped in Brussels where they met with members of the European Executive and Parliament as well as Belgian officials.
“There was also a surprising number of television interviews and meeting with newspaper journalists”, said MLA Cheek who underlined the good reception from EU and Belgian authorities.
“We were delighted with the interest and attention from the authorities we met, and we were more than eager to tell them about the referendum results and the overall political situation in the South Atlantic. I’m sure we left everyone we met better informed”, said MLA Cheek.
Another stop was in Dublin, meeting government officials, members of the legislative Foreign Affairs committee as well as journalists and academics.
“The Irish view on the Falklands is an interesting one and I enjoyed some lively discussions”, revealed MLA Cheek. Some Irish academics have written at some length about the Falklands.
Finally there was The Hague, but this time accompanied by a young Islander Zoran Zubic who gave the perspective of new generations.
“Our first appointment was breakfast with the UK Ambassador Paul Arkwright who had visited the Islands when he worked at the UK Mission to the UN in the mid ‘90s. Like all the Embassy representatives we met he was keen to help”, said MLA Cheek.
Breakfast was followed by a full day of meetings at the Dutch Parliament and Foreign Affairs ministry.
“We also had an opportunity to brief all the available staff at the British Embassy and some journalists and academics who joined us”, pointed out the Falklands’ lawmaker adding “all agreed that they now knew much more about the Falklands and that Zoran had been able to give them a useful extra perspective”
MLA Cheek also revealed how she heard about the death of Baroness Thatcher while in a meeting at the Foreign Office in London with Hugo Swire, Minister of State at the Foreign Office.
“Having met Lady Thatcher several times and seen a glimpse behind the one dimensional caricature so often portrayed, I felt her death really marked the end of an era” confessed MLA Cheek.
“It was an honor to represent the Islands at her funeral and all the more touching as she had chosen all the hymns and readings. The music was wonderful as the anthems sung by the choir swirled around the beautiful St Paul cathedral”.
MLA Cheek said the streets all the way to the cathedral there were lined with people who had turned out to pay their respects, with only the occasional protester.
Other MLAs, Dr. Barry Elsby and Gavin Short, were involved in a similar round of visits but to Latin American countries which resulted more successful than expected both in coverage and openness to listen the Falklands position the message from the referendum.