The Future of the Falkland Islands and Its People/Comment On Falklands Paper by Mr. L. Ivanov

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Comment On Falklands Paper By Mr. L. Ivanov

Jan Cheek, Legislative Councillor

Falkland Islands Government

I am in full agreement with Mr. Ivanov’s comment that the Falkland Islands early history is often misrepresented by the Argentines and those basic inaccuracies are picked up and repeated uncritically by British commentators and others. It is greatly frustrating for Falkland Islanders to see that many people find it easier to accept Argentine propaganda rather than seek facts. We are very grateful when independent commentators help to set the record straight.

I also agree that with the passage of time the relevance of the Argentine claim diminishes. In any case we know that the substance of that claim is dubious. Surely, in the 21st Century, a country should belong to those who have lived and worked in it for seven and eight generations. It is also important to emphasize that our forebears had not displaced an indigenous population because there was none. Further, I believe that the majority of Falkland Islanders would be content to co-exist as good neighbours with Argentina. Unfortunately there is no chance of that happening while they pursue their claim on our country

The evolution of more internal self-government in the islands has been dictated mainly by councillors’ developing willingness to accept more responsibility. The process is slow at present because at least three of eight elected councillors apparently see no need for change. There is a by-election for one seat shortly, it will be interesting to see if this changes the balance to allow us to accelerate the process. While I agree that a ministerial system is the answer, the question of choosing a Prime Minister would cause difficulty in our egalitarian society. I am only half joking when I say that willingness to be a candidate would immediately disqualify someone in the eyes of many!

The author’s ideas on how we may consolidate our position regarding self-determination and the status of the islands in the future give us much food for thought. I hope my colleagues are studying them very carefully.

The Falkland Islands Government already makes a substantial contribution to defence of the Islands in funding the Falkland Islands Defence Force which has an important role to play. Other items are funded including the building of family houses (usually 2 a year) to allow longer postings of accompanied British servicemen.

Some probably know of the ‘Battle Day Letter’ sent by a previous council (7 or 8 years ago) to the British Government in which the elected councillors of the day undertook to pay a much-increased contribution to defence in the event of oil being found in commercial quantities. This would be after essential spending on infrastructure. All subsequent councils have endorsed that undertaking. Of course in a ideal world we would not need to be defended against an acquisitive neighbour ...