All countries should accept the results of the Falklands’ referendum and support the Islanders as they continue to develop their home and their economy, said on Tuesday Foreign Secretary William Hague following on the overwhelming weekend vote to remain as a British Overseas Territory.
“It is only fair that in the twenty-first century the rights of the Falklands’ people to determine their own futures and decide on the path they wish to take should be accepted by all countries”, underlined the Foreign Secretary in a brief statement congratulating the Islanders on the result of the two-day referendum in which with a 92% turnout, 99.8% voted to keep their current political status.
“I welcome today’s result, which demonstrates more clearly than ever the Falkland Islanders’ wish to remain an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom” said Hague pointing out that “all countries should accept the results of this referendum and support the Falkland Islanders as they continue to develop their home and their economy. I wish them every success in doing so”.
It is clear that the people of the Falklands are British and have chosen to be so and as such have the right to self-determination as set out in the United Nations Charter.
In recent years the Argentine government has tried to coerce the Falkland Islanders into becoming part of Argentina using different tactics to harm or isolate the Islands. These include attempts to intimidate businesses involved in the hydrocarbons industry, harassment of Falklands’ fishing vessels, threats to cut the one air link between the Islands and South America and have ports closed to cruise ships that visit the Islands.
However the UK government remains committed to promoting the rights of the Falkland Islanders and defending the Islands and for this work closely in partnership with the Falkland Islands Government in Stanley who are responsible for administering the internal affairs of the islands.
Faced with all this intimidation, Britain continues to make clear to the Argentine government that any attempt to threaten the Falkland Islanders and undermine their economy will not succeed. There will be no negotiations on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands unless and until the Islanders decide.
The UK regrets the policy of the current Argentine government and remains keen to work with the Argentine government on areas of mutual interest in the South Atlantic such as fisheries conservation, and promote better co-operation between Argentina and the Falkland Islands.
On 12 June 2012 the Falkland Islands Government announced its intention to hold a referendum in 2013 on sovereignty. At the moment of the announcement Britain said that it hoped the outcome would demonstrate beyond all doubt the definitive views of the people of the Falklands Islands on how they wish to be governed.
“The UK will respect and defend that choice and we look to all members of the UN, including Argentina, to live up to their responsibilities under the UN Charter and accept the Islanders’ decision”.
The majority of the population of the Falkland Islands is British by birth or descent, with many tracing their ancestry back 9 generations to the early 19th century. Although British sovereignty dates back to the 1760s, the Islands have been continuously, peacefully and effectively inhabited and administered by Britain since 1833, except in April to June 1982 when Argentine forces illegally invaded and occupied them until they were expelled by the UK task force.
Since 1982 the Falkland Islands have developed and prospered. Major industries include: fisheries, tourism, agriculture and offshore hydrocarbons’ exploration currently underway.
The Falklands are economically self sufficient in all areas except defence, the cost of which amounts to some 0.5 % of the total UK defence budget. The UK has responsibility for the defence and foreign affairs of the Islands and with full agreement from the Falkland Islands Government, represents and acts on behalf of them in these areas.
The latest Falkland Islands Government census in 2012 indicates a resident population of 2,841 of whom 59% consider themselves to be ‘Falkland Islander’, 29% British, 9.8% St Helenian and 5.4% Chilean.