Friday, 9 December 2011

Spain won't talk about sovereignty; no change there, then

Gibraltarian sentiment
GIBRALTAR (By Alberto Bullrich) The electoral tables have turned in Gibraltar as well as Spain, both places changing the colour of their respective governments. The winners on the Rock, the GSLP/Lib Alliance, are well known to their opposition of any talks on the sovereignty of their homeland. And after the elections in Spain, the winners there (PP) announced that they foresaw an end to the Tripartite Forum because it had never agreed with Gibraltar's participation at the same level as Spain and Gibraltar. The PP, however, say that it would be useful to carry on with the direct London/Madrid (i.e. minus Gibraltar) talks  that were (so rudely?) interrupted in 2002 by losing the elections that brought the PSOE  to power.>>>

Interestingly, it was the Mayor of Algeciras and national PP deputy, José Ignacio Landaluce, who made the policy announcement - interesting because he was always the antagonist (and cohort of the infamous former Mayor of La Línea Alejandro Sánchez, also PP) in these matters, voicing ever louder opinions against those of the Government spokesperson on Gibraltar, Senator José Carracao, PSOE.) So the talks that might, or might never, achieve some political peace for Gibraltar, have now taken several steps backwards, to a decade ago. London, in the meantime, has announced that, given the PP victory in Spain, it is keeping to its position and will not be talking to Madrid about sovereignty "against the wishes of the people of Gibraltar". This position goes back several decades to the reign of Mrs. Thatcher.

David Lidington, Secretary of State for Europe and NATO, said in answer to a Parliamentary Question that Britain's Foreign Minister, William Hague, had not discussed Gibraltar's sovereignty with Spain, according to the Gibraltar Chronicle several weeks ago. "Any communication that we have with the Spanish Government about Gibraltar reflects our clear position on sovereignty, which is that the UK will never enter arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another state against their wishes and furthermore, the UK will not enter into a process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content," the paper quotes.

This is pretty much exactly the status quo as it has been for at least as long as I have known the Rock and its Campo - over 40 years. Nothing changes except change itself.

Many years ago, I suggested to several relevant politicians and 'back-room boys' of either side (and at different times), that the real answer to the problem of sovereignty lies in the so-called 'frontier'. Leave the gates open, remove the Customs sheds on both sides and allow free passage between La Línea and the Rock, and nature would take care of itself.

My position is that Nature is much wiser than us mere humans: with a population of about 30,000 and not a lot of space, the young of Gibraltar would inevitably have to seek partners in Spain; Spanish youth would come into Gib for the same purpose, even if only out of curiosity. In a couple of generations, the subject of sovereignty would be of no importance to anyone except a few politicians who had to justify their salaries by making statements and noises on the subject.

This was not a popular position to anyone I spoke to back then, and it won't be now. Not that it matters at all, as the situation hasn't changed much in a couple of centuries anyway. And it wasn't at all important yesterday, Election Day, either, if the media has anything to do with it. Much more important than the 30,000 people of Gibraltar (among whom I have many friends and not a few enemies, if these can muster the energy) were the talks in Brussels that impact a great deal more on the EU population of a mere 502,486,499.

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