Thursday, February 24, 2005

Tripartite talks will continue – Moratinos

Junta - Campo row over protocols talks - Open agenda tripartite talks will continue but without losing sight of Spain's aim of recovering the sovereignty over Gibraltar.

This was stated by Miguel Angel Moratinos in the Spanish senate. He said that a group is being set up to study the technicalities and conditions that could allow agreement on use of the airport.

Sr Moratinos reiterated Spain's objections to the HMS Sceptre repairs visit.
Meanwhile, the Junta de Andalucia and the Campo authorities have fallen out over who is the competent party to agree emergency procedures and protocols with Gibraltar. The debate erupted as Junta chiefs questioned the legality of the plans for an agreement on such issues announced following the meeting between Peter Caruana, Chief Minister and Mancomunidad president Juan Montedeoca. This meeting, however, is one of a series supported by the Madrid Government.

Nonetheless Jose Antonio Gomez Perinan has said that the Junta is not prepared to abandon its responsibilities on these issues. The row revives initial demands from the Junta for involvement in the process.

Responding to these statements Sr Montedeoca has said that he sees no contradictions in what is happening and says that the forum of dialogue has not yet established who will carry out any particular responsibility. Instead the talks are aimed at encouraging dialogue with Gibraltar.

"If there are two neighbouring regions they should have procedures in place as soon as possible. To date any incident has had to be passed through London and Madrid."

Francisco Gonzalez Cabana, Diputación Provincial de Cádiz president joined in the debate saying that the Junta presence is missing from the talks and said that it was not good to discuss issues that are the competence of the Junta without the Junta being present.

In La Linea the Mayor, Juan Carlos Juarez said that whilst it was true that the commission set up to discuss issues affecting the Campo and Gibraltar should apply more rigour in consulting relevant administrative bodies the Junta had, he said, no need to rush in and derail talks that are beneficial to both sides. He said that the Junta had commented in a precipitated manner and reiterated the benefit of having a joint plan for emergencies on either side.

"The Junta would do better to complete the epidemiological study that it promised and was asked for long ago," he said referring to growing concerns that the region may suffer a higher cancer level than is the norm.

Meanwhile Rafael Espana, the Junta representative in the Campo said that the Junta has already set in motion an epidemiological study which, he adds, is not a mere poll but a very detailed study.

According to a study recently completed by the Consejeria de Salud for Andalusia the Campo area is not different to any other regions. But Spanish officials nonetheless say they are aware of sensitivity in the Campo to this issue.

Verdemar and Campo ecologists have welcomed the plans for a study so long as this is transparent and looks at all areas including the Campo industries and the Gibraltar military base.

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