Statement by MLA Jan Cheek following meeting with the UK Foreign Secretary William Hague
Dick Sawle and I had a very good meeting with the Foreign Secretary just now. Sadly, there was an empty chair in the room, as the Argentine Foreign Minister declined to attend. We are disappointed, but hardly surprised. Argentina prefers to disregard our existence, rather than engage constructively with the people who have lived on the Falkland Islands for so many generations.
Mr. Timerman dismisses us as “settlers”. Well, we are settlers. Like countries across the continent of the Americas, we came into existence through waves of settlement from Europe and elsewhere. Indeed, we Falkland Islanders settled in our home long before many parts of Argentina were settled by the Argentines.
Mr. Timerman knows full well that it is simply untrue to say that we have fewer political rights than anyone else, or that the United Nations has said that self-determination does not apply to the Falklands, or that UN resolutions preclude Argentina from sitting down with us. Repeating these misrepresentations doesn’t make them any truer, however inconvenient for Argentina.
We know that the Argentine Government is deeply worried about our referendum, which is why they spend so much time dismissing it. Talk of the Falklands being Argentine in twenty years makes for good headlines – but smacks of desperation. We are a thriving community, with a growing international voice. We want good neighbourly relations with Argentina; we are willing to talk with them; and we cannot be ignored. Self-determination is a universal right.
We are very grateful to the British government for standing up for our freedom – in contrast to those who would seek to deprive us of it.
The Honourable Jan Cheek, Member of the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly
For a photograph of the meeting, please click this link