The Falkland Islands Government announced on Tuesday its intention to hold a referendum next year on the political status of the Falklands to clearly express Islanders views and counter Argentina’s misleading rhetoric including that “we are held hostage by the UK military”.
The announcement was made at a press conference by Falklands’ lawmaker Gavin Short and Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne, although the announcement has been reported extensively by the international press and Tuesday edition British media.
MLA Short said that there was no doubt that the people of the Falklands wish for the Islands to remain a self-governing Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom and “we certainly have no desire to be ruled by the Government in Buenos Aires, a fact that is immediately obvious to anyone who has visited the Islands and heard our views”.
However “we are aware that not everyone is able to come to these beautiful Islands and to see this reality for themselves. And the Argentine Government deploys misleading rhetoric that wrongly implies that we have no strong views or even that we are being held hostage by the UK military. This is simply absurd”.
He added that the Falklands want to convey a strong message to the outside world that expresses “the views of the Falklands people in a clear, democratic and incontestable way, and so we have decided, with the full support of the British Government, to hold a referendum on the Falkland Islands to eliminate any possible doubt about our wishes”.
“We are holding this referendum not because we have any doubts about who we are and what future we want, but to show the world just how very certain we are about that” underlined MLA Short.
This referendum will be organised by the Falkland Islands Government and will take place in the first half of 2013 with exact timings, specific wording of the question and other details to be announced in coming weeks.
“We will invite independent, international observers to observe the process and verify its outcome” pledged MLA.
From London UK Prime Minister David Cameron strongly supported the decision saying it was “absolutely right that the Falklands’ people set out how they intended to make their voices heard once more.
And Britain will be resolute in supporting their choice, he said.
PM Cameron emphasized that “next year's referendum will determine beyond doubt the views of the people of the Falklands. Britain will respect and defend their choice”.
We look to all UN members to live up to their responsibilities under the UN charter and accept the Falkland Islanders' decision about how they want to live”, Mr Cameron said.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said the British Government has been consistent in its view that the future of the Falklands can only be determined by the people who live there, “so the PM and I support this initiative to demonstrate, without doubt, the definitive view of the Falkland Islands people”.
Hague added that in a region that rightly prizes democracy and human rights, it is entirely appropriate that the Islanders can express this fundamental right because the principle of self-determination is a key part of the United Nations charter.
“The voice of the Falkland Islands people should be heard and I hope very much that Argentina, and indeed the whole of the international community, joins the UK in listening carefully to what they have to say.”