Thursday, September 01, 2005

Bossano rejects Spanish participation in Gibraltar Airport

Reply to Carracao remarks

Opposition leader Joe Bossano has declared that Gibraltar is not seeking any help from Spain on anything, and has accused Madrid of having “blackmailed the rest of the EU” in 1987 to exclude Gibraltar from the air liberalization measures.

He was responding to recent remarks on a future airport deal by Spain’s Director General Jose Pons and subsequent comments by Campo PSOE senator Jose Carracao.

A GSLP/Liberals spokesman said:

“The remarks made to the Spanish media by Senator Jose Carracao are an indication of what joint use of our airport means to the Spanish Government.

Sr Carracao says, quite rightly, that we Gibraltarians wish to have sole control of the movement of passengers through out airport. This is quite true. Why shouldn’t we?

Sr Carracao makes reference to the statement issued in Gibraltar by Sr Pons to the effect that if we want Spain’s help in the development of Gibraltar we could not at the same time refuse their right to be involved in the day to day running of our airport.

We are not seeking their help in anything. The only flights that Spain can stop coming to Gibraltar are those from Spain itself and not from anywhere else.

The fact that Spain was successful in excluding us from EU air liberalization legislation in 1987 and since does not mean that we should give them a presence in our airport in order to persuade them to reverse the stand they took when they blackmailed the rest of the EU.

Sr Carracao has repeated his message that we should abandon this position. He considers that Gibraltar should be brave and give way. In our judgment giving way to Spain’s demand is evidence of weakness and not of courage.

The new argument being presented is that this is a requirement because Spain is part of the Schengen area, This is a totally false argument to hide the reality which is that Spain is seeking compensation for removing a restriction.

In 1987 before the airport deal of December, Gibraltar’s airport was already recognized as a British regional airport by the rest of the EU including Spain. As far as we are concerned that is what we still are and what we will continue to be.

If there were flights tomorrow from here to Portugal, which is also a Schengen state, that would not require the presence of Portuguese police in Gibraltar just as it does not require it for the flights from any other British airport in the Member State UK, which is itself also not part of the Schengen area. There is no reason why different rules should apply to Gibraltar flights to and from Spain.

The real reason why Spain wants an airport deal is because, like in 1987, it is not prepared to accept that a flight to Gibraltar is a flight to an airport outside the territorial limits of Spain and therefore not an internal domestic Spanish flight.

The absurdity of the Spanish position was amply demonstrated in the EU Court case which challenged our exclusion from the EU air liberalization package and was mounted by the then GSLP Government. There Spain argued that Gibraltar airport had joined the EU in 1986 with the rest of Spain and not in 1973 with UK.

Finally, the possibility of the recognition of our 350 international telephone code as a quid pro quo is now being floated by Sr Carracao. This is the kind of offer so common in the supermarkets of the Campo where you get two for the price of one. The Special Offer on this occasion is that if we let them get one foot in the door, we get two restrictions removed.”

Related Article:

31 August 2005 - Spain wants to have its own police in Gibraltar's airport


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