Saturday, October 08, 2005

Spain and UK focus on Trilateral Forum as way ahead

From Dominique Searle at the United Nations, New York

In a break from the past, that was evidently appreciated by the Gibraltar Government delegation, Spain yesterday made a concerted effort to focus on the current trilateral forum for discussion and its new appreciation of Gibraltar’s say over its future.

Juan Antonio Yánez Barnuevo - Ambassador and Spanish Government Permanent Representative to the UN
Unusually the Spanish Ambassador himself delivered the Madrid line. Ambassador Yáñez-Barnuevo declared that Spain wants to work in a constructive spirit and hoped that this process and progress in the forum “could permit, at the appropriate moment to adequately examine the search for a definitive solution to the question of Gibraltar."

Britain for its part welcomed the trilateral forum but reiterated its longstanding commitment to Gibraltar and the Preamble to the Constitution. And in its capacity as UK president it confirmed that no EU statement on decolonisation will be made this year – this stopped five years ago after Britain and Spain blocked a consensus statement by the EU because of the territorial integrity issue.

Yesterday Spain highlighted to the UN that the trilateral forum was created separate from the Brussels process. Sr Yanez-Barnuevo stressed the elements of the trilateral process including the fact that it is open agenda. He highlighted the success of discussions on regional co-operation and said that next week’s meeting in Palma de Mallorca will seek to reach agreements as soon as possible. He noted that “each part has its own and separate voice and …each participates from the same base. This is a new and important aspect.”

Madrid recognised that although steps forward were taken under Brussels it had not been able to have Gibraltar participation under the formula of ‘two flags, three voices’. But Madrid also emphasised that whilst there are three voices decisions taken by the forum are without prejudice to the “respective constitutional status, including the fact that Gibraltar is not a sovereign or independent state.” Trilateral decisions would be formally ratified as between Britain and Spain. But the ambassador stated that it is understood that UK will not agree anything without the Gibraltar Government’s consent.

“This implies that if at any moment the issue of sovereignty is raised, it would be a matter that the UK and Spain would deal with on a bilateral basis, which would not be an obstacle for hearing the aspirations and interests of the Gibraltarian people.”

He reiterated the Spanish Foreign Minister’s view that negotiation on the question of sovereignty “cannot adequately develop in a climate of confrontation.”
Spain said that in following this route it complies with the calls made by the UN itself for a resolution.

Britain stated that UK believes Gibraltar issues can only be resolved in a climate of trust, co-operation and dialogue. It warmly welcomed the process and went on to state that UK has “no doubts about its sovereignty over Gibraltar”.

Related Articles and Links:

Full text of the Chief Minister’s address at the United Nations Fourth Committee on Decolonisation - 6 October 2005.

UN Fourth Committee on Decolonisation - Press Release Report - Gibraltar Petitioners tell Decolonization Committee Sovereignty Dispute between Spain and UK should not displace Right to Self-Determination

07 October 2005 - Caruana seeks calls for UN resolution to reflect reality

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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