David Cameron today marks the the 30th anniversary of the invasion of the Falklands with a reaffirmation of Britain’s determination to uphold the islanders’ right to determine their own future.
Three decades after Argentinian troops seized the islands’ capital, Port Stanley, Mr Cameron paid tribute to the Task Force sent by Margaret Thatcher to take them back.
However, in a gesture of reconciliation, the Prime Minister said it should be a day to remember both the 649 Argentinians who died in the conflict as well as the 255 British armed forces personnel.
The run-up to the anniversary has been marked by a ratcheting-up in tensions between London and Buenos Aires, with the Argentine government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner loudly reasserting its claim to the islands.
In a statement, Mr Cameron was adamant that Britain would not compromise on the central issue of the islanders’ right to self-determination.
‘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,” he said.
‘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.
‘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. 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.
‘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 re-affirm today.’
In an article in the Daily Telegraph today, Foreign Secretary William Hague described Argentina’s recent aggressive actions as ‘deeply regrettable’ and said the government’s statements ‘have impressed few people, including in South America’.
He went on: ‘We should remind the world that in the years since their liberation the Falkland islanders have repeated - without qualification or equivocation - their wish to keep their constitutional status, their national identity, and to live peacefully with their neighbours in Latin America.
‘As long as the people of the Falklands continue to express that view, the UK will defend and support their right to do so.’