20 December 2013
Last updated at 13:35 ET
Prime Minister David Cameron disputed Argentina’s attempt to clamp down on oil exploration in the Falklands
Britain will “always be ready” to defend the Falkland Islands, Prime Minister David Cameron has said in his Christmas message to the islanders.
In March, 99.7% of the inhabitants voted for the island to remain British, after pressure from Argentina over its claims to the Falklands.
Mr Cameron said the result “could not have sent a clearer message”.
He criticised Argentina’s “shameful” threats to prevent oil exploration in the Falklands’ waters.
Mr Cameron said: “As we look to 2014, you can count on the British government’s continued support in countering the Argentine government’s campaign to claim the islands’ resources and to inflict damage on your economy.”
Argentina has passed new laws to clamp down on oil exploration in the Falkland Islands, which impose heavy jail sentences and fines.
The UK said the laws do not apply to the Falklands.
Mr Cameron said Falkland islanders had “every right” to explore their natural resources, and assured them the Argentine government’s attempts to deter them “would not succeed”.
He added: “The Argentine government will never succeed in any attempt to misrepresent the history of your islands or question your right to self-determination.”
“Britain will always be ready to defend the Falkland Islands.”
Britain and Argentina went to war over the islands in 1982.
Margaret Thatcher’s government responded to an invasion of the islands on 2 April 1982 by sending a British task force to the South Atlantic.
Some 255 British and 650 Argentine troops died in the conflict, which ended just over two months later, on 14 June, with Argentine surrender.