Madrid and London 'to reopen talks on Gibraltar'

6th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

6 September 2004, MADRID - The Spanish foreign minister said Madrid was to reopen talks with London on the future of Gibraltar next month, it was reported Monday.

6 September 2004

MADRID - The Spanish foreign minister said Madrid was to reopen talks with London on the future of Gibraltar next month, it was reported Monday.

In an interview with the Spanish daily El Pais, Miguel Angel Moratinos said: "The time has come for dialogue about Gibraltar."

Moratinos disclosed that when British foreign minister Jack Straw visits Madrid in October the subject of the future of the British colony will be on the agenda.

Spain has traditionally laid claim to the Rock, but Britain has consistently said the decision lay with the inhabitants, who have voted against Spanish sovereignty.

In a move which was seen as an overture to restart talks on Gibraltar, the Spanish government last week announced it will restrictions on cruise ships calling into port at 
Gibraltar.

The declaration confirmed a report in Spanish daily El Mundo which said the Spanish were to drop the three-year-old policy, which had contributed to ill-feeling between London and Madrid over Gibraltar.

That unease reached a high point last month when Britain sent a ministerial delegation to attend Gibraltar's celebrations marking 300 years of British rule.

In May, Britain made its unhappiness over cruise ship visits known via diplomatic representations to the Spanish authorities after Gibraltar estimated it was losing out on the visit of some 20 vessels a year.

Last week, the territory's chief minister Peter Caruana lambasted Spain and Britain for denying the British dependent territory self-determination, dubbing the issue one of residents' human rights.

"Our inability to secure our decolonisation is a human rights issue," said Caruana, who has been the public face of a campaign by the Rock's 27,000 residents to fight off attempts by neighbouring Spain and Britain to arrange future joint sovereignty.

A referendum in the territory in November 2002 saw 99 percent of participants vote against sharing sovereignty with Spain.

There has so far been no comment from the British Foreign Ministry on Moratinos'  claims.

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Subject: Spanish news

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