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1994 - Mr Major’s 1994 Christmas Message to the Falkland Islands

Below is Mr Major’s 1994 Christmas Message to the Falkland Islands


PRIME MINISTER:

The last year has been important for the Falkland Islands. The decision to pass legislation to pave the way for oil exploration could be vitally important. No-one yet knows if there is any oil under the seabed. But if there is, and we believe you are right to find out, the effect on the Islands will be profound.

Significant oil finds will underpin your economic future. We will help by passing on the lessons we learnt in exploiting the resources of the North Sea. Between us we should look for a way of carrying forward this oil exploration without creating avoidable difficulties with Argentina. We will continue to do all we can to help and I hope that your efforts bring rewards for you and for future generations of Falkland Islanders.

For the moment, fish remains the mainstay of your economy. You have an excellently managed fishery. The results of the first year of fishing in the Outer Conservation Zone are encouraging. The move to greater economic involvement by Islanders in the fishery represents real progress. But co-operation with your neighbours remains important where there are shared stocks. We shall continue to talk to Argentina about how best to cooperate on acceptable terms. It is important that the Falklands continue to benefit from this invaluable fishery resource.

Last Christmas I said that the British economy was showing signs of recovery. Those signs have now become reality. Continued low levels of inflation bear witness to the success of sensible management of the economy. Our hard work at restructuring public expenditure and encouraging investment is now paying dividends. We are now seeing sustainable growth and, what is more, sustainable growth at a pace which is outstripping many of our partners and competitors.

I was recently in Belfast. The most recent of many visits over the last couple of years. I am delighted to mention the great strides we have made towards bringing lasting peace to Northern Ireland. We hope that by working with the government of the Republic of Ireland, we can persuade all sides of the sectarian divide to end violence for good and to join the democratic process.

Your interests in the Falkland Islands remain very important to us.

Douglas Hurd brought back two things from his visit in April. The first was a fondness for the Islands and their people. The second was a confirmation that our policy of defending your rights was both just and essential. We will not be diverted from that course. You have the right to be governed under the flag of your own choice and we will continue to uphold that right. The recent opinion poll conducted in the Islands made clear the very strong feelings that you have on this subject. Let me assure you tonight our feelings are no less firm.

I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.