A two-man delegation from the Falkland Islands is in the region lobbying for support in their efforts for what they call self-determination.
Roger Edwards, Chairman of the Executive Council on Treasury & Taxation and European Issues and Sharon Halford, Chief of Medical Services, Social Services, Child Protection, Lands, Planning & Building, and Transport, are seeking Caribbean support at the Intergovernmental Group of Twenty-Four on International Monetary Affairs and Development (G-24) grouping, to ensure that the Falklands remain a semi-autonomous British Territory.
“The thrust of the message is we’re an island people whose wishes should be paramount. We wish to determine our own future.”
Their visit follows on the heels of the just concluded UK-Caribbean Forum where it was agreed that the two regions would support the principle and right to self-determination by the Falkland Islanders.
On Thursday they met with Acting Prime Minister Nazim Burke who, according to Edwards was cordial and has promised the country’s continued support at meetings of the G-24 grouping. Edwards told local reporters that Grenada has been one of the vocal countries when it comes to discussion on the issue of the Falkland Islands maintaining its right to self-determination.
“The support we have received from Grenada for many years now, at the Committee of 24, in New York, at the United Nations, has been absolutely wonderful.”
“They have always spoken out when Argentina pushed forward this very simple question, ‘shouldn’t we be negotiating with Britain over the future of the Falkland islands’ Grenada has always stood up and said very loud and very clear…the wishes the wishes of the people’s wishes are paramount…”
The British Overseas Territory is constantly under threaten from the South American country of Argentina, and according to Edwards the islanders feel more threatened now that they have announced the start of oil and gas exploration in their waters.
“Sadly, Argentina at the moment, probably because we are exploring for hydrocarbons off-shore around the islands, are making life very difficult indeed. They are putting us virtually under an economic blockade.”
“They are threatening, through Presidential decrees, to intercept shipping that have been trading in the Falkland Islands. They are trying to bring on-board countries around Argentina…to get them on their side that that they also would ban Falkland Island flagged vessels.”
Since the announcement, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has intensified her country’s long-standing claim to own the islands.
Additionally, four of Argentina’s South American allies, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Chile have announced that they will not allow ships flying the flag of the Falkland islands to use their ports.
Last year the Falkland Island Members of the Legislative Assembly held talks with two other governments in the region including the government of St. Kitts and Dominica. On this trip Edwards and Halford will continue to St. Lucia and St. Vincent, before heading back to the UK.
For years Argentina has been threatening to take over the ruler-ship of the territory of just over 3000 inhabitants, which lead to a three-month war between Argentina and the United Kingdom in 1982.
The Falkland is a semi-autonomous British Overseas Territory made up of an archipelago of two main islands and 778 smaller islands. They govern their own affairs except for their Foreign Affairs and National security which is handled by the United Kingdom. ©