Friday, May 13, 2005

Vehement reaction in Spain to UK-Gib response to Pensions

Cross-border row intensifies * La Linea mayor threatens protest actions

The tripartite talks process has been mortally wounded, according to PP (Partido Popular) secretary for Cadiz Antonio Sanz.

Speaking in La Linea after a meeting with Spanish pensioners, Sr Sanz said that the “unity in strategy on the pensions issue by Britain and Gibraltar was a slap in the face for the Spanish pensioners.”

The Partido Popular politician also called for an “immediate response” from the Spanish Government and stated that the UK-Gibraltar response will influence the course of the forthcoming round of talks.

According to Campo press reports, yesterday’s joint statement is being interpreted as a move by Britain to settle the pensions issue in court.

Meanwhile the Mayor of La Linea Juan Carlos Juarez has declared that the payment of updated pensions is an urgent priority for thousands of people over and above the airport, telephone lines, or frontier flow. He describes these as having “secondary importance” by comparison.

“At the moment the forum for dialogue appears to be a mercantile society more than anything else and now, after the UK-Gibraltar decision to go to court, it is time that the Spanish Government listens to what La Linea is saying,” he said. Sr Juarez is adamant that unless the matter is given the priority it deserves, “we will initiate protest actions so that the matter is promptly resolved.”
The Mayor argued that the people affected are all elderly pensioners who do not have the time to wait for a decision of the European Court.

Tripartite Forum

Meanwhile Sr Sanz has also declared that the participation of the Andalusian regional Government in the tripartite forum for dialogue between Britain, Spain and Gibraltar “will not help the process of talks.”

Speaking in La Linea Sr Sanz said that the Junta would only play a minor role and it was therefore better not to attend at all.

Earlier this week senior Junta councillor Gaspar Zarrias revealed in Algeciras that the Junta had approached the Madrid Government for inclusion in the tripartite talks.

Sr Sanz prefers to see Campo mayors being represented at talks in the light of what he described as the “incapacity” of the Madrid Government.

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