Falklands : Address by the Representative, Sukey Cameron MBE, at the Falkland Islands Government Annual Reception on Wednesday 16th June 2010
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 17.06.2010 (Article Archived on 01.07.2010)
As always, I begin by welcoming you to our Annual Reception and thanking you for your support. In times of change and uncertainty, it is good to have so many friends. We are very grateful
Address by the Representative, Sukey Cameron MBE, at the Falkland Islands Government Annual Reception on Wednesday 16th June 2010
My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen
As always, I begin by welcoming you to our Annual Reception and thanking you for your support. In times of change and uncertainty, it is good to have so many friends. We are very grateful.
I should particularly like to welcome the Governor designate, Mr. Nigel Haywood and his wife, Louise. We hope that he enjoys his new – unique – posting! His Excellency, Mr. Alan Huckle, leaves the Islands in September; we wish him and Mrs. Huckle a long and happy retirement.
This has been a year of change for all of us but as always, Falkland Islanders have demonstrated their ability to adapt to change and live with the uncertainty that it brings.
Last November saw the first election for the Legislative Assembly under our new Constitution. A record turnout of nearly 80% produced a completely new Legislature.
At the General Election here, the Falkland Islands lost many loyal Parliamentarians, including the Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group, Sir Nicholas Winterton, who was among those who retired. We thank him, and all those who served on the Group, for their many years of support. We look forward to meeting the new intake of MPs and working with the Parliamentary Group when it is reconstituted.
Like the new British administration, the Falkland Islands Government is having to confront the aftermath of the global economic downturn. Our budgetary position remains uncertain, not least through reduced fisheries income, reduced investment returns and reduced tourism numbers.
But there is also good news amidst the economic gloom. We have had a successful season in the Loligo squid fishery and inbound tourism is also showing signs of improvement.
Fishing, farming and tourism have long been the mainstays of our economy but require further development to remain competitive as income generators. Our new economic development strategy will sustain our existing industries and stimulate new activity. At the same time, we shall encourage private sector investment to develop a new port which will support our fishing and cruise ship industries.
However, the most visible and potentially transformational change to the economy of the Islands, occurred in February this year, with the return of an oil rig to Falklands waters after a twelve year absence.
The first two wells drilled so far in this campaign have resulted in a gas discovery and an oil discovery. However, it is too early to declare whether these discoveries are commercially viable, and therefore it is far too soon to base any budgetary plans on the assumption of success. We wish the oil companies well in their endeavours and look forward to further results in due course.
Disappointingly, Argentina has used the new round of oil exploration in the most unprincipled fashion, to re-ignite its spurious claim to Sovereignty. In an attempt to gain by economic sanctions, what it failed to achieve by military means, it has torn up the 1995 Agreement which would have permitted collaboration in the search for hydrocarbons. It has reneged on the 1999 Agreement to conserve fishing stocks in the South West Atlantic. It has imposed a ban on charter flights to the Falkland Islands, and sought to penalise companies wanting to do business in both countries.
Now, through a Presidential Decree, Argentina seeks to control the maritime access to the Falklands, contrary to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Its actions begin to look suspiciously like an attempt at an economic blockade – which President Kirchner herself publicly ruled out during a speech she made in February!
It is immensely reassuring that the new coalition Government here has taken a strong stance in support of our right to self-determination and to develop a hydrocarbons industry. It has it rejected the Presidential Decree and called in the Argentine Charge d’Affairs in London to hand over a Note Verbal.
The Falkland Islands Government is determined to play its part in resisting the colonial aspirations of Argentina. We have maintained a strong presence in the UK press and Parliament and are increasingly taking our message to the international arena.
In its first six months, the new Legislative Assembly has sent representatives to Overseas Territories meetings in London and Brussels, CPA meetings in London and the Isle of Man and to the UN Decolonisation Committee Seminar in New Caledonia. Next week, two Assembly Members will address the UN Decolonisation Committee’s annual meeting in New York. From that you will realise that we are doing all we can to get our message out.
The message is simple and unequivocal. We are a distinct community with our own identity and separate Government. We have the right to self determination, the right to decide our own future, unhindered by any interference from any other government; and our expressed, democratic wish is to remain British. It is time the Argentine Government accepted that.
Two days ago, we commemorated the Anniversary of the Liberation of the Falklands, when thanks to the courage and dedication of the British
Task Force, Falkland Islanders regained their freedom after seventy four days of Argentine military occupation.
Our gratitude to those who fought for our freedom is unbounded and undiminished.
Twenty eight years after the war, it is appropriate that we should re-emphasise our wish to seek peaceful co-operation with our neighbours as full participating members of the South Atlantic community, to ensure that never again will the tragedy of 1982 be repeated.
I am sure that all of you here would support us in that desire.
Thank you again for joining us this evening.