Wednesday, June 08, 2005

‘Get on with Decolonisation without Spain’ – Bossano

Joe Bossano, Opposition Leader, accompanied by Fabian Picardo, arrived at the UN C24 session yesterday determined to shame the committee for failing to take action.

Having, as in previous years, kept his speech under wraps to the last moment not even advancing a copy to local press, Mr Bossano and Chief Minister Peter Caruana could each be forgiven for thinking that large parts of the speeches had been leaked. But their common positions on issues, ranging from self-determination to the way the Committee seminar had apparently bullied some delegates into statements and misleadingly giving the impression these had support from the territories, did not conceal an alternate focus on key issues.

Mr Bossano took up the Spanish delegate and told the session that it appeared that Spain’s expectation is that the UK should respond with a willingness to make sovereignty concessions as a quid pro quo for the current process.

He said he had thought that Spain was hoping to “at some distant date in the future” revive the sovereignty question but that Spain’s remarks suggested that “their hope is less distant than I anticipated.”

For the Committee the message was simple:

“It is about time that this committee unambiguously declared its unconditional support for our right to self-determination.”

In what he described as a manipulation of UN seminar statements Mr Bossano said this was something of a mystery but he condemned the performance of the British representative at a Papua New Guinea seminar who had tried to put the Gibraltar and Falkland disputes on the back burner. These conclusions, he said, could not be accepted by the Committee since none of the members agreed with it. And he reminded the C24 that mediation in territorial disputes between member states is not their role and has nothing to do with decolonisation.

Mr Bossano said that the Anglo-Spanish talks on sovereignty had taken place three years ago and that “the proposed shared sovereignty, which would not have decolonised the territory anyhow, was totally rejected by Gibraltar in the 2002 referendum.” As far as we are concerned that is now the end of the matter and the end of any further future discussions between UK and Spain.”

The new Spanish policy, he said, appeared to be one of replacing carrot and stick with more carrots and less stick. But he reminded that the UN requires countries to conduct relations on the basis of good neighbourliness.

In all events Mr Bossano predicted that the response to raising sovereignty again would be the same as in 1967 and 2002. He added that just because Spain puts its sovereignty claim on hold did not mean that Gibraltar would do the same with its right to self-determination.

“Our decolonisation has to proceed irrespective of what Spain does or does not do.”

And this was a matter for Gibraltar and Britain alone. The C24 might find Gibraltar a more complex issue but that did not justify treating it differently to other territories.

Related Articles:

UN Special Committee of 24 on Deconolization (C24)

Full text of the Chief Minister’s address at the United Nations Committee of 24

08 June 2005 - Gibraltar’s arguments 'compelling' – C-24 Chairman

08 June 2005 - Spain gestures friendship but clings to traditional stance

06 June 2005 - America expected to support Gib's self-determination

06 June 2005 - Gibraltar politicians leave for New York

27 May 2005 - Announcement imminent of GSD/Labour link, says report

19 May 2005 - Bossano attends Decolonisation Seminar

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