Monday, June 13, 2005

Caruana bemused with Bossano remarks

Govt-Opposition in new squabble after UN * GSD prepared “to talk with Spain on sovereignty”, says GSLP

Chief Minister Peter Caruana has accused the GSLP/Libs of making false and absurd statements in the aftermath of their speeches before the UN Committee of 24.

And following the Chronicle interview with the C24 chairman who pointed to the demise of the Brussels process, Mr Caruana has said that it is the establishment of the trilateral process of dialogue, according to the Chief Minister “on our terms,” that enabled the seminar to drop the recommendation of the bilateral negotiations under Brussels.

Meanwhile as Mr Caruana has reiterated his defence of “open agenda dialogue” with Spain, Mr Bossano has declared that the Opposition are not prepared to contemplate “talks or discussions with Spain on sovereignty and the GSD (Gibraltar Social Democrats) Government is.”

A Gibraltar Government spokesman said:

“The Government notes with bemusement Mr Bossano’s statement in an interview following the UN speeches in New York, that the GSLP had been successful in persuading Government to drop some of our previous positions and accept some of the Opposition’s position. He also said there was now unity on hostility to sovereignty talks, but that when he first proposed that after the 2002 Referendum, the Government refused.

These statements are as absurd as they are false.

Gibraltar will be well aware that the Chief Minister’s address to the UN C24 this year follows closely his arguments and address in previous years and also be aware that Government’s position has always been no to sovereignty negotiations and concessions, and no to participation in bilateral dialogue between UK and Spain, (inside or outside Brussels), but yes to reasonable and safe dialogue, with an open agenda, Gibraltar having its own voice and with no agreements being possible without Gibraltar’s agreement. This remains our position and there has been no change or adoption of the GSLP’s position.

The Government is delighted that in December 2004 its terms for dialogue were met by the UK and Spain. As the C24 Committee Chairman himself said, it is this fact and this progress that enables the Committee to now take another look at the issues that we advocate there. It is the establishment by the Gibraltar Government of this Trilateral Process, without the Opposition’s support, that enabled the Committee Chairman, Mr Hunte, to declare the Brussels Process a failure. It is the establishment of this trilateral process of dialogue, on our terms, that enabled the Seminar to drop the recommendation of the Brussels Process bilateral negotiations.

Nor is it true, as Mr Bossano says, that Government has changed its position on sovereignty since the 2002 Referendum. The Government has always been against sovereignty concessions and negotiations relating to the transfer of sovereignty. What Mr Bossano proposed after the Referendum was a motion in the House of Assembly rejecting even discussion or talks about sovereignty (as opposed to negotiations). The Government rejected that because in open agenda dialogue, which the Opposition has always supported, Spain must be free to at least raise the issue of sovereignty, even though we are not committed to negotiate about its transfer and are opposed to doing so. Open agenda means open agenda for both sides. It makes us equally free to raise self-determination and leaves Spain equally free to oppose it."

Commenting on the above, a Government spokesman said:

“Instead of distorting the record and trying to rewrite history and claim credit for things that are not his doing, what Mr Bossano should do is to come clean and state clearly whether he supports or opposes the trilateral dialogue on the terms achieved by the Government, which are hugely better for Gibraltar than the terms that he was ever able to obtain, despite his strenuous efforts to do so when he was Chief Minister.”

GSLP/LIBS express regret

Meanwhile the Opposition has said it regrets to learn from a statement made yesterday that “the Government has not changed its position since they voted against the proposals made for a rejection of any further, future discussion or talks between UK and Spain on the question of sovereignty,” following the 2002 referendum in a motion in the House of Assembly.

Leader of the Opposition Joe Bossano said:

“As far as we are concerned, no-one has got the right to enter sovereignty talks with Spain because this principle has been rejected in the 2002 Referendum. This is what we said then when we campaigned in the referendum and this continues to be our position today.”

The Opposition says that the statement made by Mr Bossano in an interview was to agree when GBC (Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation) suggested that the Government and the Opposition were now more in line, on the basis that the Government now appeared to have abandoned its post-referendum position and was now “completely opposed to any sovereignty discussions.”
Mr Bossano continued:

“The statement made yesterday by Government shows that this is not the case, and therefore, regrettably, they have not abandoned their post-referendum position. It means that there continues to be a clear difference between the Government and the Opposition on holding sovereignty talks with Spain. The Opposition are not prepared to contemplate talks or discussions with Spain on sovereignty and the GSD Government is.”


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