Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1982 Jun 23 We
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for CBS Morning News

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: UN Plaza, New York
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Richard C. Hottelet, CBS
Editorial comments: 0812-0820 local time.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1148
Themes: Monarchy, Defence (general), Defence (Falklands War, 1982), Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (USA)

Interviewer (Richard C Hottelet)

Prime Minister, you have just won a clear victory in the South Atlantic and you are being urged to be magnanimous in victory. What do you think of that advice and of the people who offer it?

The Prime Minister

I am never quite sure what it means. After all, all we did was to re-possess our own territory which had been peopled by British people for seven generations, some of them who had been there far longer than some of the Spanish and Italians in the Argentine. Of course if it means we must make every effort to be friendly with the Argentine again, then I quite understand it. But then really that's exactly what I did when I came into Government. It was I who restored diplomatic relations with the Argentine in an endeavour to be as friendly as possible. And a day before the invasion it was Mr. Costa Mendez who called in our Ambassador and said the diplomatic channel is now closed.

Interviewer

What practical measures would you expect to be able to take to not to have to bear the burden of maintaining a fortress island 8,000 miles away, but really to establish a relationship of peace with Argentina? [end p1]

The Prime Minister

Well I think we have to retain enough there to deter any aggressor again. But I hope that that lesson will have been learned. We obviously at the end of the battle of Port Stanley were in touch with Argentines through our Swiss contacts. And we really said, look we just hope that hostilites are now completely at an end because we want to lift sanctions, we want to lift the exclusion zones and return to normal. We haven't got a clear answer to that. But perhaps they have had enough on their hands to deal with their own internal government matters. And we might get a clear answer now.

Interviewer

The United States is concerned, as I am sure you know, with the disturbance and possibly even the disruption of Western relations with Latin America, concerned that the Soviet Union for instance might be able to play—exploit that—to play a greater role in what is really a strategically important part of the world.

The Prime Minister

Yes, but of course one has to remember it wasn't we who broke the peace. It was the Argentine who invaded and who said the diplomatic channels are now closed. And she took over the islands. And the British people there had really a terrible and most traumatic experience, and now they are restored as they wish to be. So we, in fact, have done everything we possibly can.

Interviewer

Will you make an overture to re-establish diplomatic relations and direct contact and negotiation with the Argentine? [end p2]

The Prime Minister

But you see we haven't really had any reply to our previous message, saying, look, we don't want hostilities to continue. Obviously we don't. We want to lift exclusion zones, we want to lift economic sanctions, we want to lift financial sanctions. We realise that feelings on both sides are bruised, they are bound to be. And particularly with the people on the islands. We would like to try to return to normal. We'll do everything possible. And, of course, we still have very good relations with many of the other countries in South America.

Interviewer

There is talk I think your Government has proposed or suggested a multi-national force to secure the islands in the future and with possible United States participation. Are you going to pursue that with President Reagan this afternoon?

The Prime Minister

I think in the longer run one will obviously try to pursue it. After all I remember very well the day when President Reagan asked us to take part in a multi-national force in Sinai. And there are many other countries that wouldn't say yes unless Britain did. But that often happens. We often have to take the lead. So we have made a small contribution to that really because President Reagan asked us. And we like to stand by our friends and allies. I think we have a great immediate problem you know. I don't think people realise how big it is. It was a terrible experience for those people on the islands. We had to fight to get them back. Then the mines laid indiscriminately, the minefields are not marked. And first to try to rehabilitate the people. To try to do reconstruction. To get their businesses and [end p3] their farms back to normal. It's a big enough thing on its own. And if you look at it from that human angle you will see that we really can't go into detailed discussions with anyone about the future yet.

Interviewer

Let me turn to the Middle East. You mentioned the Sinai force, there is talk of a multi-national force in Lebanon for the protection of Israel's security. Would you favour that?

The Prime Minister

Well, of course, there was already a United Nations force there as you know.

Interviewer

Which was swept aside by the Israeli invasion?

The Prime Minister

Well, which was swept aside. I am afraid that's happened before in the Middle East, as you know, just before 1967. And of course a United Nations force in Cyprus which hasn't solved those problems. I doubt very much whether we could join in that because we already have such extensive commitments. And then we have a garrison in Hong Kong as well, a garrison in Belize. One musn't get too over-stretched. And we always have to remember, both the United States and ourselves, that the main potential aggressor is the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact because they are really hitting at our total way of life. We must never lose sight of that. And that we are firm and staunch and reliable allies in NATO.

Interviewer

Britain and European countries have been sharply critical of Israel's action. And there's been talk perhaps of applying economic sanctions to force it to withdraw.

The Prime Minister

I doubt very much whether economic sanctions would get underway in that particular case. I think Israel was wrong to go into Lebanon in the way she did. There had been a [end p4] truce and a ceasefire which had been arranged by Mr. Habib, which apart from minor incidents had held. And I think that it was a tragedy it was broken. It was broken, as you know, first by Israel. And then of course after that there was bombardment.

Interviewer

Let me ask you a last question. Have you seen the little Prince?

The Prime Minister

Oh, indeed no, I haven't. But we are all so very thrilled. We are so lucky to have a Monarchy. It represents the whole continuity and the whole patriotism of our country. And to have a new generation is marvellous.

Interviewer

Thank you very much, Prime Minister Thatcher.

The Prime Minister

It's a pleasure!