Falklands: Cameron says Argentina should respect vote


Falkland Islanders celebrate ballot result

David Cameron has called on Argentina to respect the wishes of the people of the Falkland Islands to remain British.

The prime minister said the almost unanimous vote in favour of staying a British overseas territory was the "clearest possible result".

He said Argentina should take "careful note" of the referendum, and Britain would always defend the islands.

It follows pressure from Argentina over its claims to the islands, 31 years after the Falklands War with the UK.

Most Argentines regard the islands, which they call Las Malvinas, as Argentine and their recovery is enshrined in the national constitution.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has made clear that her country does not recognise the referendum, insisting it has no legal validity.

However, Mr Cameron said the islanders were entitled to the right of self-determination.

'Judge and jury'

Mr Cameron said: "The Falklands Islands may be thousands of miles away but they are British through and through, and that is how they want to stay, and people should know we will always be there to defend them.

"I think the most important thing about this result is that we believe in self-determination, and the Falkland Islanders have spoken so clearly about their future, and now other countries right across the world, I hope, will respect and revere this very, very clear result."

David Cameron: 'The Falkland islanders couldn't have spoken more clearly - they want to remain British'

He added: "They want to remain British and that view should be respected by everybody, including by Argentina."

Labour's shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said the islanders had resisted "overt and unhelpful pressure" from the Argentine government in the run-up to the referendum.

"This referendum was a democratic process, overseen by international observers, and has now made clear, once and for all, the view of the islanders," he said.

Writing in Clarin, a popular daily newspaper in Argentina, former cabinet chief Rodolfo Terragno said the people of the Falkland Islands had "proved Argentina right".

"Great Britain can no longer say the inhabitants of the Falklands are a third party in the Anglo-Argentine conflict. The islanders have confessed they are British," he wrote.

"They cannot decide which of the two countries is right. They would be judge and jury."

Media reaction in Argentina

Article in La Nacion, a conservative daily newspaper, by Martin Dinatale:

"Did yesterday's referendum pave the way for the Islanders to begin their path to independence? Not at all. Neither the result nor the strongly British atmosphere seen over the last few days showed that the referendum could leave space for the eventual independence of the islanders. Neither did the referendum seem to start a path towards dialogue between the islanders and Buenos Aires. Quite the contrary. The displays of exacerbated nationalism and the memories of the war made any intention of good relations between the islanders and Argentina more distant."

Report in Pagina 12, a left-wing daily newspaper:

"With practically absolute backing for the islands' current political status, 98.8% of the inhabitants of the Falklands voted in favour of continuing to remain as part of the UK's overseas territory. The plebiscite brought by the UK in the islands ended thus, without anything unexpected emerging."

Source: BBC Monitoring

Nigel Haywood, governor of the Falkland Islands, said the referendum was a "massive demonstration of the way the Falkland Islanders feel and of the way they see their future".

"Obviously it is a major principle of the United Nations that a people have their right to self-determination, and you don't get a much clearer expression of the people's self-determination than such a large turnout and such a large Yes vote," he said.

Dick Sawle, a member of the Falklands Legislative Assembly, said the vote should send out "the strongest possible message to the rest of the world about our right to self-determination".

"The British government is 100% behind us and it will be our job now as a government to get that message out to the rest of the world and every country that will listen to us," he said.

Islander Lynda Buckland said the result was "absolutely brilliant".

"It sends a message out to the rest of the world that we are British and we want to remain that way. My family has been here since 1842 and that is longer than most Argentines have been in Argentina," she said.

Of 1,517 votes cast in the two-day referendum, just three votes were against. There was a turnout of more than 90% from 1,672 British citizens eligible to vote in a population of about 2,900.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    the "indigenous" people from Gibraltar had to leave and spread around it"

    Gibraltar was ceded to the UK in an international treaty in 1714, a treaty that remains valid to today (a quid pro quo was the recognition of the current Spanish royal dynasty to the throne of Spain, something they are presumably keen to retain). Spain has enclaves in Morocco.

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    Cameron said:"The Falkland islanders couldn't have spoken more clearly.." The islanders may have, but Cameron hasn't. We all know that Argentina is emboldened by US ambiguity on this issue. Cameron should come out and demand the US recognises UK territorial integrity. If they refuse to do so, then everyone knows were they stand and can assess the merits of the "special relationship" in that light.

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    @grumpsleepless. Well done the Falklands,but please remember if Thatcher hadn't cut the navy and armed forces and removed our only presence in the South Atlantic the Argentinians would never have thought to invade.

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    Its nothing to do with the government backing the people of the faulklands ... Its to do with stratagy and oil ... And there is absolutely no other reason we should try and hold onto islands off the coast of Argentina ... Ridiculous ... Give them back and stop conniving ... The islanders can continue to live exactly as they wish ... No one will stop them

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    I believe in the land belonging to the living, the dead and the romantic histories do not need it. It is up to the people who inhabit a place to decide what they want. As for the islanders being sqautters, aren't we all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    142.Doug Stanhope
    Population = 2900 people
    British contingent = 1672 people (90% of whom voted i.e. 1504 people)
    That makes about 1396 people a mix of excluded from or refusing to take part in an election. What kind of election is that? No doubt someone will explain . .

    Quite simple really under 18s non falkland citizens and Brit settlers with less than 7 years there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    The future of the Malvinas must be decided by negotiation between the British and Argentine governments.
    The views of the islanders should be taken into account, but this is only one part of the overall picture.
    It is nonsense for the UK not to enter into meaningful negotiations into what is a genuine claim from Argentina.
    Talking is the only way to get a long term, and lasting, solution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    Personally, I think we must have some claim over Argentina - perhaps they could hold a vote as to whether they would like to become a British Territory - at least they might then get some benefit from the oil exploration.

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    Well, The Holy Hooker, perhaps 20% of the population are children and are therefore not eligible to vote.
    If the views of the Islanders are to be accepted as final, then how about the views of most British people on Europe? Don't we get a referendum too ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    142 There are obviously under 18's in the total population of 2900 LOL

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    If you accept that the entire human race came from Ethiopia, or somewhere nearby, hundreds of thousands of years ago, then everywhere belongs to everyone, and nowhere belongs to anyone.
    These days it is a case of who has the biggest guns and are prepared to use them. You have to start from where we are now because there isn't anywhere else to start from.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    By Argentine logic the views of the "planter"population are irrelevant to the argument and only the indigenous population's views count. But there was never an indigenous population on the Falklands.

    As for the indigenous population of Argentina (a country created by colonialism)...they're all dead, killed off by disease and the Spanish to the extent there are no pure-bred natives left at all!

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    You cannot start a murderous war and then turn round and expect to have friendly diplomatic discussions ten, twenty or thirty years later without a significant change in attitude. Argentina still agressively states its claim over the islands without any indications for concerns for the welfare of the people who live there. Argentina committed a crime by invading and should not get away with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    The author of the "Editor's pick" about how the Falklands would be Argentinian now if the Tories hadn't been in power should read some history.

    The Argentinian plan for invasion of the Falklands was drawn up in response to Maggie's brilliant idea to get rid of our aircraft carriers, leaving us incapable of responding. Luckily their problems at home led them to attack before Maggie got her way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    What I find shocking are the people who have already said that they won't be recognising it, or who have refused to comment. The USA, a country founded on the principle of self-determination, has still not come out and supported us on this issue, despite having been instramental in the war we had over the islands.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    If a government in Buenos Aires thinks Falklands belong to Argentina let its military come and take it over.

    [some of us remember how did it end last time it tried]

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    The referendum just confirmed what we already knew. Argentina has no legitimate claim on the islands. Whenever Argentina has internal problems - as it has today - it uses the issue of the Falklands to distract the population. Their claims are as bogus today as they were in 1982, fortunately they have learned that military intervention will result in a severe kicking so all they can do is posture.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    Why don't the Falkland Islanders, as a joke, lay claim to Argentina. After all The Falklands community existed before Argentina.

    Become the mouse that roared

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    If the Falklands belong to Argentina because it's next to it, does that mean we do actually own Ireland because it's next to England? Perhaps the French own us as they're only 22 miles away! There seems to be an awful lot of people whose logic seems very flawed, maybe their Liberal Self Guilt can't bring themselves to admit the truth, the Falklands belong to the inhabitants.

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    "Why call these people 'British Citizens' "

    Because the British Overseas Territories Act 2002 says so?


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