Falkland Islands Government
Mr Speaker, thank you for your indulgence in inviting me to address the Assembly. It is an honour that we could not give to you or to any other Members in the United States House of Representatives as our rules prevent that. I believe I am the first sitting member of Congress ever to visit the Falkland Islands. I hope I will not be the last because what I have seen here did not fit the stereotype that I thought would happen before my arrival.
These Islands are vibrant, they are economically self-sufficient, they have a democratic government that makes all of the decisions outside of the areas of Foreign Policy and Defence. And somehow the recession has escaped the Falklands even though it has hit most of the other parts of the world.
The United States has always stood for the principle of Self Determination. We let the British Crown know that about 230 years ago and we haven’t changed our viewpoint that the people should be allowed to direct their own government, they should be allowed to choose their system of government and they should be allowed to make whatever alliances and determinations that are necessary.
And I think that looking at what I have found here and talking to people in the Falklands, not one person wants to change the status and effectively become a colony of Argentina. And if the United nations means what it says, then the United Nations is going to have to stand behind the decisions the Falkland Islanders have made themselves rather than getting involved in a geopolitical game which will end up benefiting nobody – not the Falkland Islanders and not the Argentines. What I can say is I have been genuinely impressed with the friendliness, the sincerity and the dedication of the Falkland Islanders to preserving the present system.
And I would hope that the rhetoric on the other side of the ocean in South America is cooled because a war of words can result in accidents. This is currently a political and economic issue but I would hope that people in Argentina realise that they made a mistake falling into that trap 30 years ago and will not repeat it.
So again my thanks – I am supposed to meet the press and I don’t know if there are any Argentine TV cameras around but let me assure you I am ready for them whether it’s across the street in the Hotel or in Washington or anywhere else.
So thank you very much Mr Speaker for your indulgence.