Falklanders – a resilient people

27 May

On Wednesday, 23rd of May, the Governor of the Falkland Islands, Nigel Haywood, addressed the Islands’ Legislative Council. During his speech the Governor dealt with the challenges facing the Falkland Islanders: 

“The most important challenge is to make sure that a strong economy is maintained. Whilst the potential economic benefits that would come with oil production would be welcomed, it is not being anticipated nor is the economy reliant on it. The Economic Development Strategy, or EDS, which was produced in partnership with local businesses, was designed as a roadmap to help in developing the economy. The EDS includes measures to develop existing industries such as fisheries, agriculture and tourism but also includes options for diversification into new sectors and for improving the general economic environment. The Government budget will include significant sums to support investment in the EDS proposals.

The challenges we face also include dealing with ongoing attempts by the Government of Argentina to impede certain sectors of our economy. There is increased evidence of companies coming under Argentine pressure and regular reports of illegal interference in certain areas. However, we are confident that these attempts will continue to fail and we have the full backing of the UK Government and international law. Such attempts are inconvenient and frustrating but they are not achieving the objective of an economic blockade. Our focus must remain on our own objectives and we should not be diverted by baseless attempts to derail us. We will continue to concentrate on our own development agenda.

The Falkland Islands has once again been thrust into the international spotlight in recent months. The Argentine Government initiated a huge propaganda exercise designed to press its claim to the Islands in this anniversary year. Every opportunity has been taken by its public relations machinery to raise the issue at each and every forum. However, contrary to the Argentine expectations, this has also provided opportunities for the Falkland Islands to set out the real situation and correct the historical inaccuracies that are being spread. So far this year more than 200 international journalists have visited the Islands and the members of Legislative Assembly have attended more than 30 overseas meetings in support of this effort. It is also noteworthy that many locals have been enthusiastically vocal in support, at home and abroad.

It has been, and will continue to be, a challenge for the Falkland Islands to resource this effort. Nevertheless, it is a challenge well worth pursuing. The Falkland Islands Government is devoting considerable resources undertaking its own public relations and will continue to do so, to make sure that the Islanders’ voices are heard and their right to self-determination is promoted. We need to make sure that key messages about the Island’s status, constitutional and legal position, and the overriding determination of the community to remain a British Overseas Territory are fully understood internationally. However, we also need to make sure that as many people as possible are aware that the Falklands have a modern community, a successful economy, a commitment to the highest levels of environmental stewardship and a huge tourist potential.

Mr Speaker, Falkland Islanders are resilient and resourceful. They are used to standing up for themselves and they are steadfast in their resolve. For nearly two hundred years they have been meeting challenges effectively and they are practical and inventive in finding solutions to those challenges. The Falkland Islands has a modern society with modern aims, expectations and ambitions. The community has high standards and high moral obligations. It deserves a modern, efficient and effective Government to work with. There are some serious challenges ahead, as there are in many parts of the world. However, the Government will continue to work, to provide practical, imaginative and sometimes bold solutions in order that first class services can continue to be provided. This approach will enable the Islands to continue to have the bright future which they deserve.”

 

The full speech can be found at http://www.sartma.com/art_9806.html

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