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Falklands expose Argentine aggressiveness in the British press

Wednesday, March 10th 2010 - 19:05 UTC
Full article 176 comments
  Jan Cheek, member of the Falklands Legislative Assembly Jan Cheek, member of the Falklands Legislative Assembly

The point of view of Falkland Islanders has been included in two leading newspapers in the UK this week, ensuring that British public opinion is aware of Islanders’ position.

On 8 March The Times (circulation 508,250) published a letter from the Hon. Jan Cheek, a Member of the Legislative Assembly, which argued that suggestions regarding the “leaseback” of the Falklands were “deeply disappointing” in response to an article by Matthew Parris (27 February).

A longer “Response” article appeared in The Guardian (circulation 302,285) on 10 March, reiterating the Islanders’ right to self-determination and correcting points made by Simon Jenkins in the newspaper on 25 February.

The letters submitted to the press can be viewed below:

The Editor,
The Times,
March 5.

As Matthew Parris knows because he interviewed me at the time, Falkland Islands representatives initiated, and were involved in, talks with the UK and Argentina in 1999 aimed at improving co-operation on a number of issues including conservation of fish stocks in the South Atlantic. Some years earlier a joint declaration on an area of Joint co-operation in oil exploration was agreed. We have worked hard to have a normal neighbourly relationship with a country 300 miles away.

The Kirchner government in Argentina renounced the declaration on the Joint co-operation area for oil exploration in 2007. They have also refused to allow charter flights from other South American countries to the Falklands. The Argentine government has also withdrawn from the Commission on fisheries management for the S W Atlantic. This had been set up to ensure that fishing in the area was sustainable, through joint experimental cruises and the exchange of scientific data. More recently the Argentine government had threatened to hinder shipping in the area. This is part of the attempt to prevent companies licensed by the Falkland Islands from exploratory drilling.

It is therefore deeply disappointing to see the suggestion of ‘leaseback’ of the Islands which never were part of Argentina. Such a move would, in effect be giving away the birthright of our grandchildren, some of whom are the eighth and ninth generations to live in the Falkland Islands. Self determination is a right recognised by the UN. Falkland Islanders did not displace an indigenous population, there was none.

Yours sincerely
The Honourable Jan Cheek
Member of the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly

8 March 2010
The Guardian Response column

Simon Jenkins’ article, “The Falklands can no longer remain as Britain’s expensive nuisance” (26 February), fails to acknowledge the fact that the Falklands have moved on, unlike Mr. Jenkins’ opinions. Argentina’s endeavours to force their colonial ambitions on a small country in direct denial of the freely expressed wishes of its people are not new and ignore our basic right to self determination.

The Argentine claim to the Islands is certainly not strong, as Mr. Jenkins believes; the claim to a territory 300 miles away is neither logical nor valid. Falklands inhabitants did not replace an indigenous population because there was none. The Islands were claimed by Britain in 1765, long before Argentina existed as a country and have been permanently settled since 1833. Some families like mine, can now boast eight and nine generations – my grandchildren are eighth generation Islanders. The Falkland Islands are an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom, with internal matters governed by a democratically elected Legislative Assembly, of which I am a Member.

Neither does the United Nations accept the legitimacy of the Argentine claim. As he made clear to President Kirchner last week, the most that the Secretary General is prepared to do is to mediate between Britain and Argentina should both sides agree to discuss sovereignty. That is a far cry from endorsing Argentina’s arguments. The annual vote in the UN Decolonisation Committee is a sham - the Falkland Islands are not a colony and the debate there is therefore an irrelevance. More relevant are the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights and of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights, both of which endorse the principles of self-determination.

We have repeatedly attempted to work with Argentina and agreed a joint declaration on co-operation on oil exploration in 1995. This was renounced by Argentina in 2007. Co-operation on sustainable fisheries through a Joint Commission was a way for the Falklands and Argentina to conserve South Atlantic stocks through the exchange of scientific data, joint experimental cruises and the setting of sustainable catch levels. Argentina not only withdrew from the Commission but also sets unsustainably high quotas in some fish stocks. This is an abrogation of a responsibility to their own people, as well as the rest of the world.

Mr Jenkins states that “Argentina has not threatened military action over the Ocean Guardian” (the oil rig currently drilling in our waters). But it is clear that our large neighbour is attempting to achieve by economic warfare what it failed to achieve by military means. It has threatened sanctions against companies holding licenses to fish in Falklands’ waters and tried to exclude Falkland Islands representatives from participating at international conferences. It prevents charter flights from other countries in South America flying to the Islands and is now it is attempting to disrupt our oil exploration by threats to hinder shipping to the Islands. These are hardly the acts of a friendly and peaceful neighbour.

We remain eternally grateful to those who liberated us from the Argentine aggression in 1982, by referring to that time as “the silliest of wars” Mr. Jenkins not only insults their memory but also manages to diminish the incredible achievement of those who freed us.
Mr. Jenkins believes us to be an “expensive legacy of Empire”, he should be aware that the Islands are self financing, except for defence and the Falkland Islands Government has expressed the wish to contribute more to these costs, should oil be discovered in commercial quantities. Of course, it should be pointed out, that the reason that defence is needed is the continued Argentine claim to my country.

The Honourable Jan Cheek
Member of the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly



Categories: Politics, Falkland Islands.

Top Comments

Disclaimer & comment rules
  • nitrojuan

    I have only a word that resume this: “pirates”

    Mar 10th, 2010 - 07:56 pm 0
  • All Aboard

    Nitrojuan, all aboard the hypocrisy train, right? Did your Spanish ancestors not pirate their way around the planet? Btw, how's Kirchner doing ruining your economy? In the meantime get this: you CAN'T have them. They are OURS. And their's.

    Mar 10th, 2010 - 08:22 pm 0
  • Tom

    explosive john, welcome back from your honeymoon me harty, please come up with something meaningful.

    Mar 10th, 2010 - 08:55 pm 0
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