Expatica news

Gibraltar offers olivebranch to Spain

4 August 2004

MADRID — On the very day Gibraltar celebrates the 300th anniversary of British troops capturing the Rock, its government offered an olive branch on Wednesday by saying it was ready to co-operate with the Spanish government in all bilateral aspects that are beneficial to both sides.

But Prime Minister Peter Caruana stressed these excluded negotiations over sovereignty of the tiny peninsula; a subject that he said was “not negotiable”. 

Caruana praised the “positive tone” of comments made by Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos which he described as a “brave development that allows a margin of political manoeuvring to establish direct relations with Spain.”

“Although it includes the classic Spanish defence against our sovereignty, which we don’t agree with, the contents and the tone of his declarations point to reconciliation at a difficult and tense moment for him”.

Most of what Moratinos had said was “in essence” the same as what Gibraltar had been saying for the past eight years; that there should be a viable dialogue towards “constructive and mutually beneficial co-operation at local level.”

This included the possible joint use of Gibraltar airport, which would benefit people living in the nearby district of Spain known as the Campo de Gibraltar, combined efforts on threats to the environment and bilateral co-operation on economic affairs.

Caruana said the current celebrations, which have so upset the Spanish, were not aimed at “offending anybody”. As they were planned before the Spanish general elections they could not be seen as a “slight” to Spain’s new Socialist government.

The inclusion of military events was closely connected with Gibraltar’s history,  “and we are proud of that”, he added. “Our history has made us the people we are.”

Arriving on Menorca – ironically an island that was also once ruled by the British – for his summer holidays on Wednesday, Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said the celebrations and the attitude of the British government were “inappropriate”.

But, as the Gibraltar problem had been going on for three centuries without solution, “We have to deal with it with prudence, tranquillity and dialogue,” he added.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news