Falkland Islanders have been praised for their international campaign of diplomacy explaining their democratic credentials to the world and proclaiming their overwhelming referendum vote for self-determination and retaining their links with the United Kingdom.
The praise came during the annual meeting on Saturday in London of the Falkland Islands Association, established to support the Islanders’ wish to choose their own future without outside interference. That interference comes from Argentina, whose actions attempting to damage the Islands’ economy were condemned, including its latest law to impose huge fines and imprisonment on companies and people involved in the Falklands offshore oil industry.
The Association’s chairman, Alan Huckle, a former Falkland Islands Governor, led the attack. Argentina’s actions were criticised as breaching international law. Mr Huckle questioned whether these domestic Argentine laws had any point or effect beyond its own borders.
He contrasted the progress and prospects of the Falklands’ strong economy with that of Argentina, suffering high inflation and unemployment. President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s influence and power in Congress had diminished with the loss of votes in recent elections, lessening her chances of securing an amendment to the Constitution to allow her a third term in office.
Mr Huckle welcomed the Islands’ economic prospects with oil expected to flow in 2018 and a successful fishing season just finished with its vital earnings boosting the economy. Mr Huckle praised the way the Falklands Government is promoting its positive image internationally with a determined campaign of diplomacy with visits by its Legislative Assembly Members to many countries, emphasising the overwhelming majority of its March referendum vote to remain British, so rejecting Argentina’s claims to the territory. This campaign was exposing the lies deployed by Argentina in support of its claim. Mr Huckle said any normal person would accept this vote as decisive. The campaign was having an impact but there was still a lot of ignorance in the world and even in Britain about the Falklands and its people.
A leading member of the Falklands Legislative Assembly, Mr. Edwards, in the forefront of the campaign, said that even in Lithuania he found people who had now heard of the Falklands. But he agreed the campaign should be promoted vigorously to spread the Falkland Islands message. Mr Edwards recently led a delegation to the European Union which he thanked for making huge grants of 5.9 million Euros for Falkland Islands development. There were also EU grants for other organisations including Falklands Conservation.
Support in Parliament for the Falklands was emphasised by Andrew Rosindell, MP, Secretary of the Falklands Parliamentary Group, who said this support embraced all parties in both Houses of Parliament. He paid tribute to the Falklands Government London Office and Representative, Sukey Cameron, for their invaluable collaboration.
He was applauded by a widely representative audience of Association members, serving and former members of the Armed Forces from SAMA (South Atlantic Medal Association) and Falkland Islanders, including several students taking degrees in the United Kingdom.
1914 Battle Day Remembrance
The meeting followed the annual commemoration of Battle Day marking the anniversary of the First World War Battle of the Falklands in December 1914 in which the Royal Navy sank the whole of the German squadron with no loss of any of British ships.
Traffic was halted in London’s busy Whitehall for a service of remembrance and wreath-laying at the national Cenotaph. The wreath layers were led by the Chief of Staff of the Royal Air Force, Air Chief Marshall Sir Peter Squire, an outstanding Harrier pilot in the 1982 conflict honoured for his bravery. He laid a wreath for the Armed Forces, with other wreaths laid by Mr Edwards for the Falklands Government, Mr Huckle for the Association, Mr Rosindell representing Parliament, with others including the Falkland Families Association, SAMA, young Falkland Islanders and the Falkland Islands Defence Force represented by Zoran Zuvic, as smart in his uniform as the Royal Navy Colour Party and the Royal Marine Bugler who sounded the Last Post and Reveille for one minute’s silence.
The parade was marshalled by former Falklands Forces Commander, Air Commodore Peter Johnson. The service of remembrance was conducted by Canon Stephen Palmer, who has served as a Minister at Christ Church in Stanley.
Harold Briley, London