Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Self-determination goal 'unaltered by talks process'

Gib at the UN decolonisation session * From Dominique Searle in New York

Chief Minister Peter Caruana arrived at a hot and humid New York last night set to call on the United Nations Special Committee of 24 on Deconolization (C24), chaired by St Lucian ambassador Dr Julian Hunte to stand by its principle mission, defending the right of self-determination.

He comes supported by Daniel Feetham the Labour leader and a team of Government officials, Ernest Montado Chief Secretary and Francis Cantos press secretary. Joe Bossano, Opposition Leader and Fabian Picardo arrived yesterday ahead of their own petition to the C24.

Although their submissions are not co-ordinated and the two delegations operate separately, the message has increasingly been harmonious and with the common purpose of defending the rights of Gibraltarians especially the right to decide our own future.

Mr Caruana is set to emphasise to the C24 that the fact that a dispute over sovereignty exists does not mean that Gibraltar can be treated differently to other listed territories or deprived of any of the rights including the primacy of self-determination.

Territorial integrity arguments from Spain will again be rejected. But Spain is understood to be sticking to a policy of minimum response on the basis that it is engaged in a process involving Gibraltar and Britain and that it is not seeking to score any points at these sessions.

Talks are expected this month or early July and Miguel Angel Moratinos is unlikely to want to make any significant statements on the Gibraltar issue before then although Madrid will almost certainly make a holding statement this morning reiterating its position on fundamentals but disposition to dialogue.

Indeed Mr Caruana is expected to use the appearance to describe the talks process to the UN as well as publicly reminding Spain that Gibraltar’s own participation is without prejudice to its continued call for the recognition of self-determination and a reiteration of the principles that have been repeatedly put to the Committee. That includes the robust defence of Gibraltar’s sovereignty position.

The question of interest will be how each party refers to Brussels (The 1984 Brussels Agreement) if at all.

Mr Bossano had the Brussels reference dropped from the UN Caribbean seminar conclusion and Mr Feetham has made no secret of the fact that he sees potential in a merger with the GSD (Gibraltar Social Democrats) eased by Mr Caruana having stated that he would not participate in Brussels negotiations.

With the publication of a Gibraltar supplement in the US the Government will be keen also to highlight to the UN and the US itself, he meets with the America-Gibraltar Council tomorrow, that they are both traditionally champions of self-determination and Gibraltar should enjoy that principle too.

Mr Bossano arrives with the wind of the Caribbean in his sails following his solo appearances before the C24 seminar in the Grenadines a fortnight ago.

Only last week the Penguin News, the Falklands newspaper, published his defence of the Falklands position as against Argentina as their lead story. Spain’s more diplomatic approach was respected by Mr Bossano at that seminar but he, as with the Chief Minister, will be no less forceful in Gibraltar’s defence today than he has been on previous occasions.

What remains to be seen is how the Committee itself responds to the Gibraltar submissions and if, as on some occasions some debate from other countries follows.

Much of the task of the appearances by Gibraltar has been to hold exisiting ground against Spain making inroads even if the essential message is focused on being one of denial of proper recognition and status.

However some things remain sticky. None of the talk of decolonisation will distract from the underlying political ‘cardeo’. Here in one room seats apart in the airconditioned conference room the four key rivals will be exchanging awkward salutations and finding alternate corners in the room to focus on as they avoid the sort of political intimacy that might exist if it were a joint delegation and the additional reality that the political moment is still steamier and hotter than New York itself.

Related Articles:

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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