Friday, October 07, 2005

Caruana seeks calls for UN resolution to reflect reality

Gibraltar before the United Nations Fourth Committee • Gibraltar ‘willing to be constructive’

Peter Caruana, Chief Minister, yesterday made a call on the United Nations UN Fourth Committee(on Decolonisation) to participate in a watershed moment for the Gibraltar issue and urged it to discard the traditional terms by which it calls for a solution to the sovereignty dispute.

He wants them to drop the reference to the (The 1984) Brussels Agreement in their annual Resolution and endorse the current process involving the trilateral Forum.

“There is in practice no process of bilateral negotiations between the UK and Spain under the so-called Brussels process,” he said. He recalled that the last was held in September 2002 and that the previous ones had achieved nothing.

And Mr Caruana also gestured to Spain the willingness of his government to work constructively with Spain.

Mr Caruana pointed to the statements made before the UN General Assembly by Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos last month where Sr Moratinos had declared that Madrid is willing to work in a constructive spirit within the new trilateral dialogue forum.

“I reciprocate those sentiments and willingness and hope that we shall be able to reach good agreements on many issues. The people of Gibraltar have always shown friendship and respect to those who show friendship and respect to us, as demonstrated in actions as well as words. Spain is not an exception to this,” said Mr Caruana.

The arrival at New York of the delegations from Gibraltar was no less tense than usual. Mr Caruana arrived with Joe Holliday deputy minister who attends for the first time and joined by Daniel Feetham who has been sitting by Mr Caruana at the UN conference room’s petitioner’s seat since the former Labour leader engaged in ‘merger’ talks. Neither Mr Holliday nor Mr Feetham addressed the session. Absent due to illness was Chief Secretary Ernest Montado.

Whilst press secretary Francis Cantos had arranged some press events for Mr Caruana including a breakfast session with El Pais, Joe Bossano wandered from airports to his hotel hauling tomes of Hansard under his arm, mobile clasped to his ear as his GSLP (Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party) companion Fabian Picardo ‘blackberried’ texts and draft questions to HQ in Gibraltar in a bid to meet the rush deadline for next week’s House Question Time.

The politicians are all accommodated at the towering UN Plaza Millenium Hotel that looms armoured with glass over the UN complex on the banks of the East River. But there were no encounters scheduled ahead of the submissions.

There is little doubt from the stances at the session that the current process with Spain and the Constitutional Reform, despite the similar language used by both Mr Caruana and Mr Bossano on these key issues, actually blurs the fact that underlying all this is an increasing sense that a clash between the two looms.

But the UN Conference room No 4 was packed. An unprecedented 200 plus delegates were present for the decolonisation session and countries from afar as Monaco and Saint Lucia could be seen listening intently to the Gibraltar submissions.

In his address Mr Caruana rehearsed the traditional legal and political position he has presented to the Fourth Committee in the past: that it is absurd that Gibraltar is still a colony; that all want this resolved; that the modern realities should be judged by the C24 (UN Special Committee of 24 on Deconolization (C24)) in a visit to the Rock; that self-determination is the principle that applies not territorial integrity and; the overriding principle of democracy.

Mr Caruana asked the democracies represented how many of them could believe that Gibraltar should be decolonised in a manner other than that chosen by its people. In a striking phrase he even appealed to non-democratic regimes saying that this view should not be “anathema only to countries governed in accordance with the principles of democracy. Simple adherence to basic principles of human dignity and common sense would suffice to find that approach to our decolonisation equally contemptible.”
To go against this and hand over Gibraltar’s sovereignty was compared by Mr Caruana to slavery. Such “recolonisation” would “constitute a modern form of trafficking in human beings.”

In his address Mr Caruana told the UN that he is hopeful of a good conclusion to the Constitutional Reform talks with UK in the first half of next year. He also emphasised that the Brussels Agreement is a “spent force” and that it was not a consensus any more since UK “has said that it has no intention of resuming bilateral negotiations with Spain about Gibraltar.”

“Your Resolution should reflect reality not fiction,” said Mr Caruana. He emphasised that all this was happening on the understanding that Spain was not giving up its claim and Gibraltar would never abandon its inalienable right to freely and democratically decide “the future of Gibraltar in exercise of our inalienable right to self-determination.

Related Articles and Links:

07 October 2005 - Bossano rounds on Moratinos: ‘Keep your nose out’

06 October 2005 - Bossano will tell UN today of weakness of Spanish claim to Gibraltar

03 October 2005 - Chief Minister lobbying in the UK and UN

1713 Treaty of Utrecht

UN Fourth Committee on Decolonisation

UN Special Committee of 24 on Deconolization (C24)

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