GOVERNMENT OF GIBRALTAR
23 November 2001
*lssued by the Gibraltar Government Press Office on behalf of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Telecommunications.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry & Telecommunications has organised for a Gibraltar Pavilion to be set up at the E-business Expo 2001 to be held at Earls Court in London from the 27th - 29th November 2001. This three day exhibition is the largest of its kind on the theme of eBusiness in the United Kingdom and many multi-national organisations are expected to be present as exhibitions.
The Gibraltar Pavilion will be manned by a representation from the Government of Gibraltar and three local companies working in the related fields of information and communications technology.
During the event a special presentation on Gibraltar and e-Business will be given by the Hon Keith Azopardi, Minister for Trade, Industry and Telecommunications, Mr James Tipping, Finance Centre Director and Mr Darion Figueredo, Communications & Technology Development Officer on Tuesday 27Ih November within a specially designated zone for this purpose.
The event features the world's leading e-business companies and is supported by the leading e-business associations, It also benefits from input and support from key publications such as Computer Weekly and e-Business Review and one of the most comprehensive e-business education programmes available. The e-Business event will be mirrored by the M-business Expo, which focuses on m-commerce, mobile network services, laptops and handsets.
"This event will provide a valuable opportunity to encourage inward investment and raise Gibraltar's profile in the highly competitive world of e-Business" said Keith Azopardi.
GOVERNMENT OF GIBRALTAR
23 November 2001
* Issued by the Gibraltar Government Press Office on behalf of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Telecommunications
As part of the Government's programme to remove structures on or abutting the city walls, the demolition of the old Linares Building that sits on top of Montagu Counterguard will be conducted over the next few days. This is part of a wider campaign to enhance the fortifications of Gibraltar. Today, the northern face of the counterguard is in a relatively good condition, with few abutting buildings. One of the buildings that most detracts from the line of the original fortifications is the Linares Building, which sits on them and whose demolition has now been scheduled for the following weekend. The Government views this as the first of further demolitions that will unclutter the city walls.
The Montagu Counterguard was completed in 1804, in conclusion of the plan authorised by the Duke of Richmond in 1787. Montagu Counterguard is the second in an envelope of three counterguards joined by thin curtain walls, the others being North-West (incorrectly named West Place of Arms) and Chatham Counterguards, that protect North Bastion, Montagu Bastion and Orange Bastion respectively. On its North-West outer face, a bricked-up postern gate (originally a sally port) is evidence of its early link via a footbridge to Devil's Tongue Battery. The purpose of a counterguard such as Montagu is to act as an outer line of defence and a cover against bombardment of the bastion behind, whose shape they mirrored. In an attack, the counterguard would have to be breached and captured first, thus slowing down an enemy assault.
GSLP Party political broadcast - 22/11/2001
Good evening ladies and gentlemen,
I address you just two days after the respective Foreign Secretary's of Britain and Spain met under the umbrella of the Brussels talks for them to decide what is in our best interests. In a joint communique issued the same day, it was made clear that their aim was to conclude a comprehensive agreement by the summer of next year covering, amongst other things, sovereignty proposals. If anyone was in doubt about what exactly the Brussels talks meant, then surely those doubts have been dispelled once and for all.
I don't propose to tell you what the Brussels process entails - we have all heard and read enough about it both in the past and recently. I don't propose to tell you once again what the GSLP view is - Our views have been made clear and our position has remained consistent and unchanged throughout.
So what am I going to talk about? Well, I could talk about a number of local issues that are affecting us and which the GSD want to sweep under the carpet. For example, our National Health Service, which Mr Linares claims, in one breath, is working wonderfully, only to say with his second breath that more experts are being commissioned to tell us what is wrong with it. The answer is very simple and we don't need an expert to tell us. Our Health service is being neglected. It is underequipped and is being run by a Minister who frankly hasn't got a clue! Of course the GSD will tell us how they have plans for a new state of the art Hospital and this is perhaps how they would seek to justify the state in which we find our health service today. But the situation requires much more than this. You simply don't change a book by changing the cover. That may be aesthetically pleasing and may win some votes but it doesn't solve the problem. What is required is a complete review and carefully structured and considered overhaul of our Health Service. Only then will we have health care facilities of which we can be proud and in which our dedicated health providers can work properly.
I could tell you about how the GSD are spending the taxpayers money as if there was no tomorrow without any policy or direction. How thousands of pounds of our money is spent on a party in London. I could talk to you about the traffic chaos Gibraltar is faced with every single day. I could go on and on and these issues are of course of vital importance to Gibraltar and all Gibraltarian's. However, I think that in today's climate most people want to hear what my views are on our Foreign Affairs and in particular how we should handle recent events.
The joint British and Spanish message that has come from the latest round of talks is arguably the worst ever. Never has a British Government so clearly and blatantly acknowledged that it is willing to reach a compromise on the sovereignty of Gibraltar and its people. Some people ask how have we got ourselves into this mess? Now is not the time to carry out a post mortem or to apportion blame. Now is the time to produce constructive proposals on the way ahead.
So what have the GSD proposed we do? The Chief Minister in his ministerial statement announced the creation of an Office of Information, an increased budget to sway public opinion, employment of Public relations experts and the creation of a Foreign Affairs Committee made up of former politicians amongst others. All well and good and great public relations exercise for the Government. But analyse it carefully and you soon realise that there is no substance to their proposals. These measures and the money that will be spent could be utilised usefully if they formed part of a clear message from Gibraltar. After all, an Information office to say what? PR experts to market and advertise what? An increased budget to sell what view?
We have already expressed our reservations as to whether the package of measures announced by the GSD will suffice to stop the negotiating process by December. This argument is even more forceful now that the deadline has been shortened to the summer.
So what does the GSLP propose? Well, we have already come up with and presented our proposals and suggestions on how this matter should be handled. It is clear in my view that there are two options available to us. The first, is that we back what the British Government wants, which is to support, take part in and influence some of the details of any agreement. The second and alternative option is that we reject the talks and campaign to stop any agreement being reached in the first place and replace that with our own proposals arrived at by consensus in the Select Committee on Constitutional Reform. These are two clear and contrasting options,
We proposed, and of course support, the second option. Such a deal must be scuppered before it even leaves the ground. How can we do that is the obvious question? Well, let me first start by saying that we believe that this is a decision which is too important, too vital to Gibraltar's future for any one person or party to take. Each and every one of us has a right to decide which route we want Gibraltar to follow which option we feel is the right one and we have called upon the Government to call a referendum on this crucial issue. Regrettably, the Government has rejected this already.
We are of the view that unless Gibraltar is united and past differences put aside our chances of stopping any deal are greatly reduced. We must ensure that it is our not Britain and Spain's constitutional proposal's which are put to a vote next summer. Only in this way can we be pro-active rather than reactive in countering the present threat to Gibraltar. Once Gibraltar has a united view then is the time to campaign forcefully and utilise those measures suggested by the Government. However, unless a clear message, backed by the majority of Gibraltarians through the process of a referendum, is going to be delivered, any campaigning or lobbying will prove fruitless in achieving our aims.
The alternative is that in 6 or 9 months time we will be faced with the scenario painted by Peter Hain during his visit to Gibraltar: Either we pay a price, as yet unspecified, to get restrictions lifted or we get left behind. By implication that means the restrictions will stay and whenever we protest to the British Government they will point us to the Anglo-Spanish deal that has been reached.
Make no mistake, Britain wants Gibraltar to participate, support and help negotiate a deal that bilaterally settles Gibraltar's future by the end of the summer. Why? It wants Gibraltar's participation, not to determine whether such a deal or agreement should proceed or not but to influence the odd detail here and there. In this way, they can make the package more attractive and palatable at a referendum and, therefore, more likely to be accepted by the people of Gibraltar. This has been spelt out clearly by the British Foreign Secretary. They realise, rightly so, that without the participation of Gibraltar at these talks, any agreement is highly unlikely to be accepted at a referendum
We are clear on what needs to be done. The Select Committee on Constitutional reform must complete its work and produce and publish its proposals - it must put them to the people of Gibraltar in a referendum before any agreement is presented to us by the British and Spanish Governments. Then, and only then, will a clear message be sent to Britain and Spain, a message which cannot be misunderstood or misinterpreted, a message whose strength is re-inforced through the process of a referendum. The British Government has said that it will always respect the democratically expressed views of the people of Gibraltar. Well, lets give them just that.
GOVERNMENT OF GIBRALTAR
PRESS RELEASE No. 190/2001
20 November 2001
Gibraltar lights up for Christmas
The main thoroughfares of our town centre are once more bedecked with colourful decorations, once again indicating the proximity of the Christmas Festive season. Since the beginning of November these decorations have been appearing overnight in certain sections of our central streets. The work is carried out overnight in order to cause as little inconvenience as possible to the public and road users in general.
Given the favourable comments that greeted the generalised use of rope-light figures last year, it was decided to continue using these more modern motifs instead of reverting to the back-it designs used previously. An increase in the number of these rope-light figures will be generally evident both in Main Street, Irish Town and the adjoining lanes.
Since the team has become proficient in designing and constructing motifs using rope-lights, it was decided that the "Merry Christmas" display placed on Referendum Gates was due for renewaL A new two-section motif has been designed and put together by the team and has been installed for the first time this year.
Kyron Dyer, a 13 year old pupil of St Martin's School, will be given the opportunity to switch on this new display for the first time. He will perform the ceremony in front of the House of Assembly in Main Street at about 6.30 pm on Friday the 23rd November. Thereafter the lights will come on automatically at 530pm each day until mid-night, but will remain on throughout the nights of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and the 5th January 2002.
Young Kyron will be switching on the lights in the presence of his many friends and schoolmates, some of whom have themselves switched on the lights in previous years. The staff of the Electricity Department who have carried out the installation and have manufactured the motifs will also be there. The public in general has turned up in large numbers for the occasion and it is hoped that the event will be well supported.
GOVERNMENT OF GIBRALTAR
PRESS RELEASE No. 190/2001
Date: 20th November 2001
The Gibraltar Government notes the Joint Press Communiqué issued by Mr Straw and Sr Pique following their meeting in Barcelona today, and also their statements at the joint press conference afterwards.
The Gibraltar Government welcomes the clear statement by Mr Straw that no agreements are possible without the consent of the people of Gibraltar. The Gibraltar Government also welcomes Mr Straw's statement of the Constitutional sovereignty assurance in its traditional form that sovereignty of Gibraltar cannot be transferred contrary to the wishes of the people of Gibraltar democratically expressed in a referendum. This assurance thus extends to the land, and not just to the citizenship of the people. In these contexts, the Gibraltar Government also notes the stated objective of reaching an agreement by summer next year. In the Gibraltar Governments view there is absolutely no prospect of the people of Gibraltar accepting any proposal that involves any transfer of sovereignty, joint sovereignty, shared responsibility for Gibraltar's EU or NATO affairs, the establishment of cross border bodies or committees that give Spain a role or say in our affairs, or any Spanish military presence in Gibraltar.
The Gibraltar Government would welcome participation in dialogue with Spain on an open agenda basis, provided that we can participate with a separate voice of our own and with the assurance that nothing will emerge from this process by way of agreement over the head of the Gibraltar Government. Agreements must be agreements which are acceptable to the three voices present (under the two flags three voices model). It is not politically reasonable or viable to expect the Gibraltar Government to take part on any other basis, and we will not do so.
The Gibraltar Government regrets that these simple and reasonable terms have not so far been available to it, hence its absence from the Barcelona talks. This dialogue is about Gibraltar, and, allegedly its future and its destiny. It is therefore wholly inappropriate to talk of the Gibraltar Government 'being invited" to participate, or of agreeing to "Iisten" to the Chief Minister's view, or of the Gibraltar Government having "a very important contribution to make" to discussions between London and Madrid or of allowing the Chief Minister to "express his opinion on matters of his competence". There is no issue that affects the future of Gibraltar or as affairs over which the Government of Gibraltar is not competent to participate. Such language implicitly denies the people of Gibraltar their rightful status, in talks about them and their homeland. Gibraltar is not a Colony in Victorian times. We will happily take part in dialogue between London, Gibraltar and Madrid. We will not take part as 'invitees" in talks between London and Madrid.
The right of self-determination of the people of Gibraltar is an irrenounceable objective.
The Gibraltar Government notes the joint statement that "the guiding principle (of the talks) is to build a secure, stable and prosperous future for Gibraltar and a modern sustainable status consistent with (the UK arid Spain's) common membership of NATO and the EU". Gibraltar already enjoys a secure, stable and prosperous future and therefore a sustainable status. The only threat that we face is Spain's failure to fully respect our EU rights and obligations, and the failure by others to take effective remedial action to uphold our rights.
Spain's offer to increase the number of Gibraltar telephone numbers that are accessible from Spain is not sufficient to eliminate Spain's flagrant breach of EU Competition Rules in relation to Gibraltar's telecommunications system.
The Gibraltar Government notes that the British Government welcomes Spain's proposals to improve health care facilities in Spain for Gibraltarians and that the UK and Spain agreed that this should be followed up quickly. Gibraltar has its own excellent health service. This is supplemented in respect of certain emergency and specialist services by hospitals in the UK and in Andalucia, Spain which are greatly valued in Gibraltar. In Gibraltar, health is the competence of the Gibraltar Government. In Andalucia it is the competence of the regional government of Andalucia. Any agreement to further develop links between the Gibraltar and Andalucian health services (which the Gibraltar Government welcomes) is therefore a matter for the Gibraltar Government and the Andalucian Regional Government.
It is not clear what is meant by the agreement that bilateral discussions between the UK and Spain would continue to address the pensions issue, This may be a reference to Spain's claim that pre-1969 Spanish workers in Gibraltar should enjoy periodic increases in their pensions. These pensions are paid by the UK Government with its own funds and are frozen at the UK's insistence. The UK is therefore free to agree to increase them at any time. Entitlement to pensions from Gibraltar Government funds is a matter of law and not open to political discussions, bilateral or otherwise.
The Gibraltar Government much looks forward to its participation at future talks being made possible on fully democratic and politically reasonable terms that reflect the rights, wishes and interests of the people of Gibraltar in their homeland.
BRUSSELS PROCESS MINISTERIAL MEETING ON
GIBRALTAR, 20 NOVEMBER, BARCELONA
JOINT PRESS COMMUNIQUÉ
Josep Piqué I Camps, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom
At our meeting today we confirmed our shared objective to continue our discussions about Gibraltar, in an atmosphere of trust and mutual co-operation, a commitment which Prime Minister Blair and Prime Minister Aznar endorsed when they met in London on 9 November. We are delighted that we are making good progress.
We discussed the full range of issues set out in the November 1984 Brussels Communiqué. We did not want to draw conclusions today. Our aim is to conclude a comprehensive agreement by the summer of next year. This overall agreement will cover all outstanding issues, including those of co-operation and sovereignty.
Our shared objective is a future where Gibraltar enjoys greater self-government and the opportunity to reap the full benefits of normal co-existence with the wider region. The guiding principle is to build a secure, stable and prosperous future for Gibraltar and a modern sustainable status, consistent with our common membership of NATO and the EU. We also agreed on the need for rapid progress on key areas of co-operation. We asked officials to work up ideas and report to the next Ministerial meeting.
While the British Government welcomed the Spanish decision to more than triple the number of telephone numbers for Gibraltar to 100,000, both Ministers agreed on the need for experts to continue discussions to resolve the other telecommunications issues. The British Government welcomed Spain's proposals to improve health care facilities in Spain for Gibraltarians, and both Ministers agreed that this should be followed up quickly. The Ministers also agreed that bilateral discussions would continue to address the pensions issue.
We agreed that the Government of Gibraltar had a very important contribution to make our discussions. Gibraltar's voice should be heard. We reiterated the invitation which we issued to the Chief Minister of Gibraltar when we met in London on 26 July to attend future Brussels Process Ministerial meetings. His role will be fully represented and he will have the opportunity to contribute fully to the discussions. The Process would benefit greatly from the direct views of the Government of Gibraltar, and through the Government of the House of Assembly and public opinion in Gibraltar as a whole.