Falklands : JEREMY BROWNE MP – A MESSAGE TO THE FALKLAND ISLANDERS
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 14.06.2012 (Article Archived on 28.06.2012)
It is a huge honour to address you here in Stanley on what is a particularly poignant Liberation Day. As ever this day carries mixed emotions.
Photo (c) J. Brock (FINN) via FITV
JEREMY BROWNE MP – A MESSAGE TO THE FALKLAND ISLANDERS
By The Hon Mr Jeremy Browne MP;
Minister for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The Hon Mr Jeremy Browne MP Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office opens the new Fisheries Building ajacent to the Agricultural Department.
Photo (c) J. Brock (FINN) via FITV
It is a huge honour to address you here in Stanley on what is a particularly poignant Liberation Day. As ever this day carries mixed emotions. On the one hand it celebrates the Freedom of the Islands and their proud Islanders and on the other it commemorates those whose lives were lost in the struggle for that freedom.
We remember today the 252 British Servicemen and 3 civilians who gave their lives to protect the rights of the Falkland Islanders to shape their own destiny, to preserve their way of life and to determine how they are governed and by whom.
I know how much this sacrifice was appreciated 30 years ago. I know how much it is appreciated today and I know how much it will continue to be appreciated in another 30 years’ time and for generations to come.
We remember the three Islanders whose lives were taken during the conflict, who never knew of Liberation Day but who will forever be known because of it.
And we remember, too, the 655 Argentine soldiers who died on and around these shores. Many of them were young conscripts. They left behind grieving mothers, fathers, wives and children. And it is right that we should acknowledge their loss.
The bond between the Falkland Islands and Britain is hundreds of years old. Thirty years ago that bond was reaffirmed. And now we honour it every 14th of June. It is felt on our Islands in the north-east of the Atlantic as it is on yours in the south-west. This bond is based on common values and respect for human rights, in particular your political rights to choose how you are governed, how to develop your economy, how to educate your children and care for your parents and how to determine your own future.
In Britain the right to self-determination is considered sacrosanct. It is a principle that people instinctively understand and support. But being here this week has vividly and practically demonstrated why this right is so revered.
You hold your destiny in your own hands and you are thriving. Your economy is going from strength to strength despite global economic problems and despite neighbourhood economic pressures.
Your Government has invested in the Future while maintaining a healthy fiscal surplus. And alongside your development you have maintained an honourable commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability. In fact, the respect that you have shown for your Islands and their natural assets has contributed to your success. Your fisheries are acknowledged to be among the best in the world and it was a privilege to attend the opening of your new fisheries building earlier this week.
The care you have shown for your environment and the warm hospitality which I have enjoyed so much during my stay can also help to attract more tourists to your shores.
An investment in Farming has been vindicated by high prices for wool and meat that are bringing in significant revenues.
The prospects for your local oil industry are also potentially very significant. But the economic future of the Falkland Islands is not dependent on energy resources. You have a strong and self-sufficient economy built on stable and responsible decision-making and hard work.
And beyond the economy there is further cause for optimism. The number of children entering the education system is increasing and standards are improving and I am impressed by efforts to improve governance and cut unnecessary administrative burdens.
But what has struck me most is the number of people that I have met on this trip who grew up here, who went abroad to study or to gain experience and who then returned here to put their skills to use and to bring up their own families on the Falklands. That, more than anything else, illustrates the success of these Islands.
Your passion for your homeland demonstrates why it is so important that your political and social rights are upheld; and it demonstrates why the United Kingdom is so proud that you Islanders desire an association with us.
As long as you wish to maintain your links to Britain we will protect your right to do so.
My Government welcomes a proposal to hold a referendum to express decisively your views on your status. We will certainly respect and support the outcome and hope that the rest of the international community will do so, too.
We tirelessly support your political rights in international organisations and in discussions with other states from the Americas to Europe. But it is extremely important that we speak with you as much as we do for you. It is you who rightly remain front and centre of the international stage on this matter.
So I am delighted that over 200 international journalists have visited the Islands this year in order to get first-hand impressions of your hopes and ambitions. And your representatives have energetically been making your case around the world at more than 30 overseas meetings so far since January.
Today two Members of your Legislative Assembly, Roger Edwards and Mike Summers, are at the United Nations in New York doing just that. And for the first time they have been joined by young Islanders – a new generation of articulate and energetic ambassadors for the Falklands. This work requires considerable resources and effort but it is worth it not only to assert your right to self-determination but also to make people all around the world aware that the Falkland Islands are a modern, successful and progressive place; because when people see what has been achieved here and how it has been achieved with resilience, fortitude, and respect for your environment, your home, it should become clear to everyone that your status should not be a punching bag of politics or posturing.
The status of your home should be determined by no one other than you. That is the principle of self-determination – admired and desired by freedom loving people all around the world.
So on this day as we remember the past and venerate those who fought for your liberation, let us be reminded that liberty is always worth defending. And you should be reminded of this every day as you maintain your way of life as you travel the world and return to this extraordinary place; the only place you call home as you bring up your children as Falkland Islanders and as your Islands go from strength to strength.
(100X Transcription Service)