Argentina: 2016 Joint Communiqué on the Falklands

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office – in the House of Commons at on 14 March 2023.

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Photo of Rob Butler Rob Butler Conservative, Aylesbury

What assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of Argentina’s decision to withdraw from the 2016 joint communiqué on the Falklands.

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The Argentine Government’s decision is disappointing for the Falkland Islands, for the UK and for Argentina. There are many areas in which our countries stand to gain from working together positively, including on the humanitarian effort to identify fallen Argentine service personnel from the 1982 conflict. The joint communiqué covers all these areas and more. The Argentine Government’s decision hurts our mutually beneficial bilateral co-operation, and it further damages the Falkland islanders’ confidence in their intentions, which is why Argentina should reconsider its decision. We are working closely with the Falkland islanders to identify next steps.

Photo of Rob Butler Rob Butler Conservative, Aylesbury

I was lucky enough to visit the Falkland Islands a few weeks ago with the armed forces parliamentary scheme, and from meeting local people there it was clear that they powerfully and passionately stand by the referendum result of exactly 10 years ago, when more than 90% voted for the Falklands to remain a British overseas territory. That makes Argentina’s recent unilateral decision to abandon the joint communiqué all the more outrageous. What are the Government doing to make it clear to the Argentines that the Falkland Islanders have the unequivocal right to self-determination and how the UK will protect that in practice?

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

It would be remiss of me not to welcome the 10th anniversary of the referendum on the future of the Falkland Islands. It is only for the people of the Falkland Islands to decide their own future. We consistently make clear to Argentina and to international partners our unbending support for the Falkland Islanders and their self-determination rights.

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Chair, Committee on Standards, Chair, Committee on Standards

The Falklands are British and that is the end of the story. Santiago Cafiero is undoubtedly engaging in a bit of electioneering during a general election, and we should just—[Interruption.] Exactly as the Foreign Secretary just indicated, we should not be surprised when these things are said.

Many of my constituents lost loved ones killed on the Sir Galahad in the defence of the Falklands many years ago and some of them are worried that some papers have not been published yet and will not be until 2065. They would like to see the full papers that were provided to the board of inquiry, so will the Minister investigate whether those can now be published?

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

I thank the hon. Gentleman for making those points in his original remarks. There are usual processes to go through, but I will take those points away and discuss them with the Minister for overseas territories.