FALKLAND Islanders must be masters of their own fate and should remain under British sovereignty unless they choose otherwise, the Foreign Secretary has insisted.
William Hague has intervened in the escalating war of words between the UK and Argentina over the sovereignty of the archipelago in the South Atlantic.
Hague said the future of the islands is about the people’s “freedom to determine their own future and to develop their own community and economy”.
He added: “We will never negotiate sovereignty without the consent of the islanders. Self-determination is an established principle in international affairs.” His words come amid a diplomatic row between Argentina and Britain, after Prime Minister David Cameron accused Argentina of “colonialism” for continuing to claim sovereignty over the Falkland Islands.
In response, Argentine foreign minister Hector Timerman said Great Britain was a country “synonymous with colonialism”.
The sharp exchange came ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War in April.
Hague said: “Although they retain their links to the UK as an overseas territory, the islanders elect their own leaders and make their own decisions about how to govern their affairs.
“Only the islanders can be masters of their future. We will never impose a different kind of political association, or agree to changes in sovereignty, unless and until the islanders themselves wish it.”
Argentina seized the islands in the South Atlantic in 1982 but it was regained by a British military task force two months later.