Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Spain restates it wants Gibraltar's presence at talks to be demoted to that of a municipality

Spanish officials lose no time to restate that Spain wants to demote Gibraltar's presence at talks to that of a municipality. Effectively they are saying that the  much trumpeted trilateral forum is dead and buried.

There can be two flags or four flags, but not three flags - those of Britain, Spain and Gibraltar.

By two flags they mean those of Britain and Spain. By four flags they mean those of Britain and Spain, plus the flag of Gibraltar at a par with that of La Linea or some other part of the Campo area.

Although the Spanish Government agreed formally that Gibraltar be given equal status to Britain and Spain when the trilateral forum was first constituted, the present PP government in Spain is dead against it.

Spanish foreign minister Sr Margallo was saying in a newspaper interview at the weekend that what they want is a four-sided forum integrated by Spain and the UK, on the one side, and 'the authorities of the Rock and the Campo on the other.'

Nothing could be clearer than that! It means that Spain takes the view that Gibraltar can discuss with the Campo the problems that, they say, affect Spanish workers here, and the like, but important issues are for Britain and Spain only.

Relegating Gibraltar to such lowly levels has always been unacceptable in Gibraltar, even if certain elements in the Foreign Office, forever eager to have a trouble-free time in Spain, like to urge the incumbent at No.6 to adopt what has been seen by chief ministers as an undignified stance.

Those elements in the Foreign Office, who seem to enjoy supporting foreigners and not loyal British people, were exposed at the time of the Falklands war by sending the wrong signals to the claimants of that territory to the extent that they encouraged an invasion by Argentina which must have cost the British exchequer more than keeping the Falklands British! Not to mention the number of people who met their deaths by the conflict.

In the case of Gibraltar, the preamble to the Constitution was not seen as a barrier to engage Spain in formal joint sovereignty negotiations. Gibraltar's position may now have been strengthened by the assurance that no talks will be held with Spain that Gibraltarians are against. But some people ask: what is such an assurance worth?

1 comment:

  1. There is no reason for Gibraltar to be demoted to the level of a municipality. It matters not whether Spain sees any parallel between a British Overseas Territory and a Spanish municipality. Irrespective of the fact that both are members of the EU, unfortunately, the systems of government are different!

    Spain is in no position to insist. Whatever the fools at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office would like, Gibraltar is, to all intents and purposes, an independent country. The fact that it may not be large enough to conduct its own defence or foreign relations is irrelevant. The difference between Gibraltar and Monaco is what? The wider defence of Monaco is provided by France. The wider defence of Gibraltar is provided by the United Kingdom. Gibraltar's foreign relations are managed by the United Kingdom. Monaco has agreed to conform with French interests. Essentially, Gibraltar has more say in its foreign affairs than Monaco does.

    And on the subject of territorial waters, perhaps Spain could define when it "obtained" territorial waters other than by the age-old method of how far they could fire a cannonball? After considerable obfuscation, they will probably find that they got internationally-recognised territorial waters at the same time as every other country. Only one "country" in the world would like to deny that the Falkland Islands has territorial waters. But Argentina has to contend with a declared 200 mile economic exclusion zone. Would Spain like to find out how far Gibraltar could fire a missile? (Note: This does not mean a guided missile).

    Spain is simply trying everything its 17th century mind can think of. Perhaps Gibraltar needs to up the ante. Could Gibraltar afford to buy, maintain and crew suitably-sized "patrol" vessels? Something on the lines of the River-class patrol vessel that acts as the Falkland Islands Patrol ship. HMS Clyde is armed. HMS Clyde is not owned by the Royal Navy. It is leased from BAE Systems Surface Ships. BAE Systems Surface Ships is responsible for all maintenance and support throughout the lease period. Worth thinking about! I'll bet the Spanish would think twice.