Commentary (The Times)

Falklands: “Lord Carrington says Britain will honour wishes of Falklanders” (Nick Ridley visit & leaseback)

Document type: Press
Source: The Times , 27 November 1980 (p1)
Editorial comments:
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 453

Lord Carrington says Britain will honour wishes of Falklanders

By David Spadier , Diplomatic Correspondent

Lord Carrington, the Foreign Secretary, confirmed yesterday that various ideas about settling the future of the Falkland Islands were now under discussion. But he said that a report in The Times that sovereignty of the islands might be transferred to Argentina was inaccurate.

â€oeWhat is happening is that Nicholas Ridley, one of my ministers at the Foreign Office, is talking to the Falkland islanders about their future and about the various possibilities for the future of the Falkland Islands”, Lord Carrington said.

â€oeThe Argentines have got a claim on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands which we dispute”, Laid Carrington said, speaking on BBC radio, â€oeand that claim is not going to go away. What we wait to do is come to an amicable agreement with the Falkland Islands and with Argentina.”

There was no question of doing anything contrary to the wishes of the Falkland islanders, the Foreign Secretary added.

As Mr Ridley had only just arrived there, it was necessary to wait to see what kind of solution they preferred, or if they preferred none.

The Foreign Office said that, since the exploratory talks with Argentina last April, the Government had been considering how best to continue the dialogue, with a view to achieving a solution acceptable to all parties. There were no specific proposals.

Islanders’ surprise: British suggestions for ending the long-standing dispute with Argentina over the tiny British Colony of the Falklands have taken islanders by complete surprise (Michael Frenchman writes). Mr Graham Bound, editor of Penguin News said last night that many of the young people among the islands’ population of 1,720 favoured any suggestion for transferring the sovereignty of the islands to Argentina so that the British Government could in turn lease them back for a period of perhaps 999 years.

Mr Ridley is visiting some of the outlying farms with Mr Rex Hunt the Governor.

Mr. Ridiey told a meeting of the Sheepowners’ Association that one option for the future of the islands had not been discussed publicly. Under this plan Britain would transfer the titular sovereignty of the islands to Argentina and lease them back immediately in an agreement similar to that used for the New Territories.

Commenting on this, Mr Ridley told them: â€oeYour life-style would not be changed and there would be new financial benefits from fishing, tourism, and oil which would commence as soon as possible after the change.

The Falkland Island Office in London issued a statement last night saying that the islanders’ reactions to Mr Ridley’s lease- back plan were resentful. It went on: â€oeMost people present were in favour of maintaining the status quo.”