Forty years ago this week, the Union Flag once again flew over Stanley, writes Minister Responsible for Overseas Territories the Rt Hon Amanda Milling MP, who recently visited the Falkland Islands.
She continued: “Thanks to the sacrifice and bravery of UK armed forces – and Falkland Islanders – the right of the people of these Islands to decide their own future was protected.”
Her message to the Islands continued as follows: 40 years on, the UK remains resolutely committed to ensuring that you, and only you, have the right to decide your own future as part of the modern partnership between the UK and the Overseas Territories.
I was delighted to visit the Falkland Islands for the second time a few weeks ago and while inclement weather cut my program short, I left with a renewed awareness of what has been built in the last 40 years.
You should be extremely proud of all that you have achieved over the last four decades.
You have built a democratic, modern and prosperous community. Whilst many island communities across the world have seen their economies and populations shrink, the Falklands is bucking the trend. Even in the five years since I first visited, the changes have been clear – from the moment I landed I was able to enjoy the smooth tarmacked road from Mount Pleasant Airport almost to Stanley.
I was struck by how Stanley has grown and I was delighted that it has become the first town in the Overseas Territory to win city status by competition, particularly in the year of Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
The other thing that was clear for me from my visit was the partnership between the Falkland Islands and the UK. I was impressed to hear about the successful management of the COVID-19 pandemic by the local health team and in particular the successful vaccination program with COVID-19 vaccines supplied by the UK.
The UK is clear that we will defend the Falkland Islanders rights of self-determination. 40 years ago we defended this against an unprovoked and illegal invasion. Today we are supporting your MLAs in their trips to United Nations to make sure your voice is heard. We will continue to work to support your government and promote the undeniable democratic rights of the Falkland Islanders to manage your own affairs and decided your destiny.
40 years on, I will be raising a toast to what your community has achieved. I cannot wait to see what the next 40 years will bring as we look forward at forty. (Penguin News)