Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

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

1982 Nov 5 Fr
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for ITN (visiting Paris)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: British Embassy, Paris
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Geoffrey Archer, ITN
Editorial comments: Interviews with the British press took place 1305-1335 immediately on MT’s return from the Elysee Press Conference.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1344
Themes: Defence (Falklands War, 1982), Trade, European Union Budget, Foreign policy (International organizations), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU)

Q

Was the United Nations vote on the Falklands a slap in the face for Britain, as some people have said?

PM

I don't know whether it was a slap in the face. I thought it was incomprehensible and unbelievable and very disappointing. After all the Argentine invaded the Falklands. We had to go down there and recover our own territory and recover freedom for our own people. And now they are wanting to achieve by negotiation what they failed to achieve by conquest. How people can be taken in I simply don't know. But they have. It won't make any difference to us or our obligations to the Falkland Islanders. We shall continue to defend freedom and justice and their right to choose their own way of life in the future.

Q

But the vote was a major expression of world opinion. Does the time come when Britain will have to listen to that world voice?

PM

No. It was a general motion in the General Assembly, highly political, expedient, rather than principled. I don't listen to that.

Q

The American vote. What damage has that, do you think, done to Anglo/American relations?

PM

I thought the American vote was incomprehensible and disappointing. We have always tried to be staunch and true friends to the United States and actually when we were in conflict with Argentina, when battle had been joined, the United States was then very true to us. I don't understand how she can now vote for negotiations with a totalitarian country just in the very week when there have been unmarked graves discovered in Buenos Aires full of missing, disappeared people, and in the very week The Queen gave a posthumous VC to one of our bravest Colonel ‘H’ Jonespeople who will always be remembered in the history of Britain and in the history of freedom and in the history of the Falkland Islands.

Q

But is this going to make your personal dealings with President Reagan, in future, very difficult? [end p1]

PM

It is difficult to forget. Very difficult. I hope that we will be big enough to be friends to them because we do both stand ultimately for freedom and because I know that America is a final guarantor of the freedom of the peoples in Western Europe. We must try to bear that in mind and dismiss this other vote as a matter of temporary political significance.

Q

Are you partly holding off from talks with Argentina for fear of offending the relatives of British servicemen who died or who were injured in the Falklands? And if so for how long can that consideration continue to apply?

PM

No I am not. We have no doubt about our title of sovereignty. We discovered the Falklands, South Georgia. We have no doubt about our sovereignty of the Falklands. The people there are of British stock. We have no doubt that people who have been born British, or born free, may have a right to decide who shall govern them and they have chosen to be loyal to Britain and we must stand up for those who stand up for freedom and who are loyal to us.

Q

But would you hope in the long term that the people of the Falkland Islands might find some new rapprochement with South America?

PM

It would be difficult to find a new rapprochement with the Argentine, in view of the fact that they have not had a democracy for many years, in view of their treatment of the Islanders. If people want a rapprochement they must show that they believe as much in liberty and human rights as we do. And you know I went to the Berlin Wall last week—we take freedom for granted. If you have been deprived of it, or if you haven't got it, you'll know its true value. And perhaps we don't value it enough. The Berliners do and so do the Falkland Islanders.

Q

Turning to the talks here in Paris, France's abstention at the UN, did that provide a very good start to the talks?

PM

Yes it did. But you know France was a very staunch ally throughout the Falklands. I remember the first day of the [end p2] invasion, President Mitterrand telephoned me. He understood what was at stake and there was no question about his total loyalty to the principles on which we stand. So it wasn't only that they were not going to support Argentina in the United Nations this time, it was against the background that they knew what we were fighting for and they understood it. And so that did set a very good start to the talks.

Q

What did these talks though achieve? Have you got any closer on the question of Britain's budget contribution?

PM

No we haven't. I believe that this year's will very soon be sorted out because there is only a technicality now as to how they shall be paid which is holding the matter up. We haven't got any further on the long-term solution and I have made our views very clear that we must. Don't be too depressed about it. There are differences in the best and closest of families. The question is not the differences but the spirit in which you tackle them. They are there to be overcome and I believe that we shall overcome them. We shall have quite a struggle. We shall go on arguing but we must get a reasonable settlement. Its totally wrong that Germany and Britain should finance the Common Market. And I hope that people will come to see that. Indeed I am sure they will.

Q

What about the question of protectionism for trade? France has introduced certain measures against certain Japanese goods. Has there been any fear in your mind that France, or any indication from France, that they might introduce protectionist measures against Community partners?

PM

Britain is an exporting country. It serves our purpose to have an open market the world over. The problem is that we are open to most goods and our housewives buy most goods freely. Not according to where they come from but according to value for money. And yet we can't get our goods into other markets on the same terms. Now if we are to keep an open market, other people must keep an open market, and if they don't they must accept retaliation against that. And that's the position we are now in. [end p3] In a world recession—and it is a deep world recession—people tend to be going protectionist. It is better that we stay open. What I cannot have is certain people closing their markets to us for one reason or another. Or having enormous tariff barriers where we have small ones, so we don't get a fair deal. We are out for a fair deal. You are right that there is a protectionist feel in the world—that wouldn't be good in the long run. And we must try to break it down. But we can't have one-sidedness. We have got to have fairness. And that is what we are working for.

Q

But do you think President Mitterrand agrees with those views at all?

PM

Oh yes I think François Mitterrandhe does. He is very much aware that other people put up barriers against them, well aware that other people put up barriers against us. In a way we are all trying to protect the jobs of our own people. But you know you get best value for money when you really have to compete. And therefore its healthier to have more open trade. But for that we have to tackle the Japanese, we have to tackle the Spanish, we have to tackle all sorts of people who are using one device or another to make it difficult for us. Now if people play fair with me, my goodness I play fair with them. If they don't play fair with us, they must expect some kind of retaliation. The choice is theirs.

Q

Finally, how would you characterise Anglo/French relations after this Summit?

PM

We had a good day—a good two days—Yes there are difficulties and we don't help them by running away from them. We recognise them. But we recognise them against a background that it pays us to co-operate, it pays the things we believe in to stand together. And in that spirit we shall tackle the differences and I believe we shall overcome them.