PMQs: Johnson slams opposition over Falklands reaction
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In comments made by a member of the territory’s Legislative Assembly in a year marking four decades since the conflict, Argentina is also accused of worsening relations with the Falkland Islands in its use of “bellicose” rhetoric. Roger Spink, a Member of the Legislative Assembly, told Express.co.uk: “We’re a small population that continues to be bullied by Argentina. They very often use [the row over sovereignty] to divert attention of their population from the issues they have within their own economy.
“It’s very sad. We try and live in peace with them. We’ve bent over backwards to work with them on humanitarian projects at the Argentine cemetery at Darwin for identifying the remains there of their loved ones.
“We’ve also bent over backwards to ensure families and relatives have been able to come and visit the graves of their loved ones.
“We feel we’ve been reasonable, despite the difficulties for people who were in effect invaded and [had] their liberties taken away from them, but they continue to issue threats.”
He pointed to Argentina ignoring requests to set up flights to Chile for Chilean islanders to visit family as evidence of bullying tactics, while at the same time Buenos Aires demands such a link for itself.
Mr Spink said: “We’ve succeeded economically despite all the things they’ve done.”
Argentina has been ramping up efforts to prise the Falkland Islands back, in part by exploiting the 40th anniversary of the end of the Falklands War.
The South American country invaded the Falklands on April 2, 1982, leading then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to dispatch a military task force, which reclaimed the islands after a three-month war that claimed almost 1,000 British and Argentinian lives.
Buenos Aires has said 2022 will be the year to “raise awareness of Argentina’s sovereign right” to the British Overseas Territory, which is known in Spanish as Islas Malvinas.
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Argentina insists the islands are subject to an illegal occupation which began on January 3, 1833, when, it says, the UK used its forces to expel legitimately constituted Argentine authorities.
Mr Spink said: “The focus should be on the sacrifices that the people and their families made back in 1982. From our point of view in the Falklands we want to show those people who made those sacrifices the progress we have made over the past 40 years and to look forward to a bright future for the Falklands.
“We’re a very peaceful country. Back in 1982, we were no threat to anyone, but we were invaded by a neighbour who took freedom away from the people of the Falklands.
“We were liberated 40 years ago from people who wanted to impose their will against the will of the people.”
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A referendum held in 2013 saw 99.8 percent of voters in the Falklands opt to remain a British Overseas Territory on a 92 percent turnout.
Mr Spink said that is the way islanders wish to remain, describing the rights of the people of the Falklands to choose their own future as “inalienable” and guaranteed by UN charter.
The Falkland’s is being positioned by its Government as the gateway to Antarctica for the British Antarctic programme as well as having German and Norwegian missions using the south Atlantic archipelago as a stop en route to the frozen continent.
A 10 year capital programme will also see a port redevelopment involving UK companies to accommodate cruise and survey ships. There are also plans to boost renewable energy on the islands as well as developing seaweed production and safeguarding the environment.
Since the war, islanders have built up a fishing industry which now accounts for about 60 percent of GDP and has allowed the territory to progress to the point where it can fund new infrastructure, including a power station.
Mr Spink said: “Islanders have been determined to make a success of the Falklands. The sacrifices that were made in 1982 will never, ever be forgotten by the people of the Falklands and that is something that’s passed down through the generations. There’s a bright future.
“I think over the years we have gradually made progress with better relationships with South America. We have Chileans, Brazilians, Peruvians and even some Argentines living here.
“We do live with our neighbours peacefully. We would like to see that peacefully progress, but unfortunately the bellicose rhetoric that we hear from Argentina doesn’t help to improve the relationship with Argentina in particular.”
A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokeswoman said: “The United Kingdom has no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands and surrounding maritime areas but it is up to the Falkland Islanders to determine their own political status.”
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