A WEARSIDE Falklands veteran is supporting the hardline stance on the islands’ sovereignty.
Paul Bachurzewski, of Fulwell, was just 19 when he sailed for the South Atlantic as part of the parachute regiment’s elite D Patrol Company.
The dad-of-two is now a watch manager at Rainton Bridge fire station – and still believes the ultimate say on the islands’ future should lie with the Falkland Islanders themselves.
Prime Minister David Cameron this week rebuffed claims by Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner that Britain was a colonial power and the islands, known as the Malvinas in Argentina, should be handed back.
“The future of the Falkland Islands should be determined by the Falkland Islanders themselves, the people who live there,” said Mr Cameron.
“They are holding a referendum this year and I hope the president of Argentina will listen to that referendum and recognise it is for the Falkland Islanders to choose their future, and as long as they choose to stay with the United Kingdom they have my 100 per cent backing.”
Paul said the Government was right to take a tough stance and the issue of sovereignty was a matter for the islanders alone.
“I agree with what Mr Cameron said. It is entirely up to the people of the Falklands to decide what they want to do in the future,” he said.
“The islanders want to be British.
“It is an argument that was settled 30 years ago and, until they change their minds, that is it as far as I am concerned.”
Ms de Kirchner made her call in an open letter, published as an advert in the Guardian, arguing Argentina had been forcibly stripped of the islands in “a blatant exercise of 19th century colonialism.”
Barry Elsby, a member of the Islands’ Legislative Assembly, hit back: “We are not a colony; our relationship with the United Kingdom is by choice,” he said.
“Unlike the government of Argentina, the United Kingdom respects the right of our people to determine our own affairs, a right that is enshrined in the UN Charter and ignored by Argentina.”