Falkland Islands mark end of 1982 war with Argentina

  • 14 June 2012
  • From the section UK
Media captionThe BBC's Caroline Wyatt: "It's a day of high emotion"

The Falklands have marked 30 years since the end of the war with Argentina with a service at Liberation Monument.

It followed a service at Port Stanley's cathedral to remember the UK's liberation of the UK territory from Argentine occupation on 14 June 1982.

Argentina's president questioned the UK's sovereignty over the Falklands when speaking at the UN on Thursday.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said there would be "no negotiation" over the islands' sovereignty.

The anniversary of the liberation of the islands after 74 days of Argentine occupation was marked at a service of thanksgiving at Christ Church Cathedral in the Falklands capital.

'Emotional' event

Veterans of the 1982 war then led a military parade to the Liberation Monument for an act of remembrance, paying tribute to the 255 UK servicemen and three Falklands civilians who died in the war.

Wreaths were laid at the monument and the national anthem was played.

An estimated 650 Argentines were also killed during the conflict.

The BBC's defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt, in Port Stanley, said it was a day of high emotion for veterans who had come back to see the battlefields where many of their friends and comrades laid down their lives.

For islanders, it was a vital ceremony to mark their liberation and to express the undying gratitude they felt for the servicemen and women who came 8,000 miles to help them.

Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne attended the service in Port Stanley. He said it was "hard to convey" to the wider world "just how much this means to the Falkland Islanders".

"There are hundreds of people gathered here in what is frankly really freezing cold, inhospitable weather, and they are doing that because they are so grateful for what we achieved on their behalf 30 years ago," he added.

In London the Falklands' flag flew over government buildings.

In a speech at the Falkland Islands Government reception on Thursday evening, David Cameron paid tribute to the bravery of the armed forces and Baroness Thatcher.

"To everyone who served in the Falklands - those who are here today and those who aren't - I say on behalf of the British people that we are proud of you and we salute you.

"We will always be in your debt."

But speaking of "aggression from over the water", the prime minister went on: "My message to the government of Argentina is this: the UK has no aggressive intentions towards you.

"Accusations of militarisation and nuclear threats are hyperbole and propaganda.

"But do not under-estimate our resolve," he added.

"Threats will not work, attempts to intimidate the islanders will not succeed, because Britain stands ready and willing to stand up for the Falkland Islanders at any time.

"As long as they wish to remain a British territory, that is the way it will stay."

'Anachronistic colonial case'

Addressing the United Nations Committee on Decolonisation in New York on Thursday, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner cited historical and geographical reasons as to why the Falkland Islands should be ruled by Argentina.

"How can it be claimed that, 14,000 kilometres away [8,700 miles], that it can be part of the British territory?" she asked.

"The UK is benefiting from its privileged position as a permanent member of the security council of the United Nations," she said.

"The issue of the Malvinas [Falklands] is a challenge to see whether or not we are capable of overcoming prejudice and cliches that are outdated, because the world has changed and there are new players."

President Fernandez de Kirchner also said Argentina is "just asking to talk" about the islands' sovereignty. "Can someone in the modern world deny that possibility?" she added.

Two Falkland Islands legislators also spoke at the same session, where they insisted on their right to self-determination.

The Falkland Islands, a rocky archipelago in the South Atlantic, are 7,780 miles from the UK and 1,140 miles from Buenos Aires.