London hails Madrid's'new mood' on Gibraltar

27th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

27 October 2004, MADRID - British officials hailed Spain's new policy towards Gibraltar an "important shift" as the two countries' foreign ministers met for talks on the colony Wednesday.

27 October 2004

MADRID - British officials hailed Spain's new policy towards Gibraltar an "important shift" as the two countries' foreign ministers met for talks on the colony Wednesday.

Madrid is to give priority to improving the nation's relations with the Rock's inhabitants by promoting cooperation at the local cross-border level, diplomatic sources said.

"This is a good thing," a British diplomat source said, adding "Gibraltar wants it; the local area adjoining Gibraltar wants it; it makes sense."

The initiative is in keeping with the new "mood" that Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has brought to the government, he said.

The meeting in Madrid between Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos and British counterpart Jack Straw is expected to end the so-called Brussels Process begun in 1986.

That series of meetings to decide Gibraltar's future culminated in 2002 in Britain announcing it was prepared to share sovereignty over Gibraltar with Spain.

Gibraltarians rejected the declaration in a referendum held in 2002.

Denis MacShane, Britain's minister for Europe, has stated repeatedly that Spain's best hope of regaining the territory is to embark on a process of wooing the Rock's population, which would inevitably take at least a generation to succeed.

Peter Caruana, Chief Minister of Gibraltar, hailed a new attitude from the Spanish government.

Caruana broke three yeas of silence with Madrid in September by sitting down to talks with Spain's secretary of state for Europe, Jose Pons.

Gibraltar is a British colony on the southern coast of Spain at the Strait of Gibraltar connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Britain took control of the territory in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession, and Spain has made repeated claims to regain the piece of land that is home to some 32,000 people.

In referendums, most of the residents have indicated they wish to remain under British rule.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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