Friday, July 22, 2005

“Campo de Gibraltar de Gibraltar”, Bossano tells Canal Sur Radio

Joe Bossano - GSLP - Leader of the Opposition
Leader of the Opposition Joe Bossano participated in a live programme on Gibraltar in Canal Sur Radioyesterday morning.

During the interview Mr Bossano reiterated the GSLP/Liberal doctrine on cross border issues, and ended the programme on a humorous note replying to the old Spanish slogan of “Gibraltar Español,” with his own “Campo de Gibraltar de Gibraltar.”

A GSLP/Liberal spokesman said:

“Many issues were raised during the interview, which also touched on the trilateral forum talks.

Mr Bossano explained that the Opposition had made clear from the beginning that it would not pronounce itself for or against the talks until it was able to evaluate what emerged. Since nothing has emerged from it to date, the position was unchanged. All that had happened is that three people had met two times and had told everyone after the meeting how friendly and how cordial it had been and how well they had all got on together. The interviewer reacted by saying that what had emerged was the removal of the cruise ship ban and the permission to land in Malaga in inclement weather. Mr Bossano said this was not correct and that these measures had been announced in October 2004 as an initial move by Spain to create a climate of goodwill that would enable the launch of tripartite dialogue. The other two things mentioned in that initial announcement were the Spanish pensions and the joint use of the airport. It was the latter two issues that have been discussed.

As regards to the importance of these measures taken by Spain, Mr Bossano reminded listeners that the cruise liner ban had been lifted earlier temporarily and that what was announced in October 2004 was that it would now be lifted indefinitely.

As regards the use of Malaga, this was a new development that had to be put in context by remembering that even with a closed frontier and Franco in power, flights had been allowed for some time between Gibraltar and Madrid.

The interviewer then asked what was wrong with flights coming in from Spain. Mr Bossano replied there was nothing wrong but that they were being stopped by the Spanish Government and not Gibraltar.

He then explained that the 1987 Airport Agreement resulted from Spain blackmailing the EU to exclude Gibraltar airport which until Spain joined had been accepted as a British Regional airport in the EU. The 1987 agreement had sought to remove Spain’s veto in Gibraltar’s participation in exchange for a joint use agreement under which flights from Spain were treated as being within Spanish national territory and authorised by Spain. UK flights would be treated as being within UK, and third country flights required the agreement of both parties. This is what the GSLP (Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party) in Government had rejected and blocked in 1988.

Mr Bossano said there was a fundamental difference between allowing use of the facilities, and quite another to convert them into joint facilities for use by both sides and he wondered how Spain would feel if Gibraltar asked for joint use of the Port of Algeciras in exchange for joint use of Gibraltar airport.

On the question of Spanish pensions, Mr Bossano told Canal Sur Radio that it was incomprehensible why so many technical experts were needed to look at this matter. UK had asked that pensions in Gibraltar should be frozen because they did not want to pay. These could only be unfrozen when UK becomes willing to pay.

The interviewer suggested some progress was being made on telecommunications. Mr Bossano made the point that it was one thing to talk about cooperation, where two parties agree to work together, and quite another to hold talks about the removal of restrictions. So far the dialogue with Spain has consisted in Spain being given something in exchange for removing restrictions which should never have been imposed in the first place. When it came to telephones, Mr Bossano pointed out that the mobile phone he had with him worked in Helsinki in Finland and the Finns were not asking for anything in exchange. So why should Gibraltar have to give anything for it to work in Algeciras?

In the light of the answers that Mr Bossano had given, the interviewer asked tongue in cheek what Mr Bossano made of the view held in Spain that the Gibraltarians wanted their bread buttered on both sides. The Opposition Leader replied that the people of Gibraltar are entitled to have their bread buttered on both sides because it is their bread and their butter and they can do with them what they like.

The interview ended with Mr Bossano being asked to give a short counter to the Spanish cry of “Gibraltar Español”. He replied “Campo de Gibraltar de Gibraltar”! The programme lasted half an hour. The interviewer was based in Seville and Mr Bossano was based at the Canal Sur studio in Algeciras.


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