Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain is committed to ensuring the Falkland Islands’ right to self-determination, in comments to mark today’s 30th anniversary of Argentina’s invasion of the South Atlantic archipelago.
“Thirty years ago today the people of the Falkland Islands suffered an act of aggression that sought to rob them of their freedom and their way of life,” Cameron said in a statement on his official website today. “Britain remains staunchly committed to upholding the right of the Falkland Islanders, and of the Falkland Islanders alone, to determine their own future. That was the fundamental principle that was at stake 30 years ago: and that is the principle which we solemnly reaffirm today.”
Britain and Argentina have been stepping up the rhetoric in the run-up to the anniversary of the war in which U.K. forces repelled the invading Argentine troops. A total of 255 British military personnel were killed while 649 Argentinian lives were lost.
Argentina accused Britain of escalating the dispute earlier this year by deploying a modern destroyer to the region and sending Prince William, the second-in-line to the throne and a military-helicopter pilot, for a six-week mission to the Falklands, which have a population of about 2,500 people. Argentina’s Foreign Ministry said March 22 that four U.K. oil companies are breaking Argentinian law by exploring for oil off the islands.
Argentina said last month that Desire Petroleum Plc (DES), Rockhopper Exploration Plc (RKH), Borders & Southern Petroleum Plc (BOR) and Falkland Oil & Gas Ltd. (FOGL) will face legal action. The four companies announced plans in 2010 to search for crude in the area. Only Salisbury, England-based Rockhopper has made a commercial discovery so far, with Borders currently drilling and Falkland Oil & Gas scheduled to drill later this year.
“Today is a day for commemoration and reflection: a day to remember all those who lost their lives in the conflict -- the members of our armed forces, as well as the Argentinian personnel who died,” Cameron said. “Today, we salute the heroism of the task force which set sail to free the islands.
“We are rightly proud of the role Britain played in righting a profound wrong,” he added. “And the people of the Falkland Islands can be justly proud of the prosperous and secure future they have built for their islands since 1982.”
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