British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that despite the recent diplomatic challenges in relations with Argentina we will continue to work for productive cooperation, and for the future security and prosperity of the Falkland Islands.
In his annual Christmas message Mr Blair reflected on the 25th anniversary of the South Atlantic conflict with Argentina over the Falklands, which takes place in 2007 and emphasized on the British government's determination to protect the Islanders right to self determination and UK's sovereignty over the Islands. Blair anticipated that the events planned for the 25th anniversary in the UK and the Islands will be a fitting and respectful tribute to all those who fought in the conflict, and in particular to those who lost their lives defending "your freedom and your right to determine your own future". The full text follows: "As the year draws to a close, I'm glad again to have this chance to send my best wishes to everyone on the Falkland Islands. It's an opportunity as well to reflect on what has been, I know, a busy, prosperous and sometimes difficult time and to look forward to 2007 with the special significance that it holds. Thanks to your efforts, the Falkland Islands' economy is in good health. The sensible and long-term decisions you have taken to develop your fishing industry are now paying off while tourism continues to prosper. The islands are increasingly a destination for cruise ships, with some 45,000 visitors coming ashore in the last season. Given the stunning natural beauty and wildlife of the islands and the hard work of the Tourist Board, I am sure these numbers will increase. The improvement in air links which the Falkland Islands Government are working hard to secure will also lead to a welcome increase in tourist numbers. I also want to pay tribute to the efforts being made on the Falkland Islands to safeguard this wonderful environment and our planet as a whole. The world is, I am pleased to say, waking up to the threat that mankind's impact on our climate poses to us all. The disastrous costs and consequences of ignoring climate change was underlined when we published the Stern review in October. But the principle that human activity can damage our planet and our way of life will, of course, be of no surprise for those of you who have for years been living with the hole in our Ozone layer. The Falkland Islands Government is already investing in three major wind turbines, which will provide up to 30% of the Islands' energy requirement. This is an excellent project, crucial to securing your own future, and I hope that you will continue to develop the Islands in this sustainable way. Next year - the 25th anniversary of the conflict - will, of course, lead to increased public and media interest in the Falkland Islands. It will be an opportunity for you to demonstrate the successful development of the Islands over the last quarter of a century. But the main focus of the events planned in the UK and on the Islands will be a fitting and respectful tribute to all those who fought in the conflict and, in particular, to those who lost their lives defending your freedom and your right to determine your own future. I want to assure you that the British Government's determination to protect this right is as strong today as it was 25 years ago. Based on the fundamental principle of self-determination, we are steadfast in our commitment to uphold your security and the UK's sovereignty over the Falkland Islands. At the same time, we will continue to work, despite the recent diplomatic challenges in our relations with Argentina, for productive co-operation on areas of mutual interest including, of course, the future security and prosperity of the Falkland Islands. May I end, as always, by wishing you a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous and peaceful New Year".
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