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There must be a level playing field

The Chronicle has again aired the serious financial problems that continue to confront it. The last time they did so was in May 2001. Then, and now, we make restrained comments on their problems, but only because they themselves have placed their difficulties in the public domain, otherwise we would not have considered the matter, even if we had known about it, as we did, before the Chronicle itself made it public.

What we said then holds good now. 

Other printers, including ourselves, have made the point in the past that the Chronicle is a commercial, profit-seeking venture, and if any measures were to be put in place which would not be ordinarily available from Government to others, then the same measures should be made available to the rest of the industry. There has to be equality of treatment and no discrimination. 

UNFAIR COMPETITION

There cannot be favouritism. What cannot happen is that a printing and publishing organisation, young or old, should be placed in a privileged position over others. This is wrong and immoral, and creates unfair competition which can be actionable under European law.

The question of state aid has loomed large in recent times. We should have learnt the lessons by now.

Only last week, the European Commission ordered that aid made available to some Spanish shipyards, in the form of capital injection, loans and a purchase price of properties above market value, is not in line with EU rules and must be returned.

The Commission said that it is aware that the consequences of this decision may be serious for the group, but noted that others had already suffered job losses as a result of the unfair aid given to the said companies in the first place.

Clearly, there has to be a level playing field. One sector of an industry cannot be helped in a special way if others are not. Unfair competition must not be created.

HIGH OVERHEADS

The difficulties being faced in the local economy generally is that, increasingly, there is competition from the other side which cannot be faced. Such competition is unfair because they can offer lower prices given the higher overheads and other factors in Gibraltar.

Generally speaking, there appears to be no loyalty when it comes to making purchases but loyalty to one's own pocket. Those who demand lower prices from the local printing industry, for instance, themselves offer goods and services at higher prices than in the immediate economic area.

The printing industry as such have urged protection from unfair competition and practices, but printing work for the Government and its agencies can end up being done outside Gibraltar and not through locally-established printers. Yet, printers like everyone else, have to pay higher charges in Gibraltar to the Government and to those who provide semi-official services, often in monopolistic circumstances, while the providers of those services do not reciprocate.

DIFFERENT WORLD 

Excessively high overheads, to allow some to enjoy a superior quality of life and/or to make profits at the expense of the rest of the community, leads to situations where something has got to give: Often it is not that people do not want to pay high rates, taxes etc but that they cannot pay. As Gibraltar moves increasingly into a different world, where barriers come down and others come in, there is an urgent need for a reappraisal of situations to allow local businesses to be able to compete fairly, otherwise there are those who could end up in foreign hands or closing down.

But as we said at the beginning, solutions cannot stem from policies that will place one segment of an industry in a privileged position over others. There has to be a level playing field. At all times.

Britain and Spain keen to 'cook up' Gib deal

By Paul Waugh

LONDON: A FRESH row over Gibraltar erupted yesterday after Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon hinted that Britain's link with the Rock may come to an end.

Right after attending the 300th anniversary celebration of British rule, Mr Hoon came under fire for suggesting that enlargement of the European Union would have "implications" for Gibraltar.

The Tories seized on his remarks as proof that the Government is keen to "cook up" a deal with Spain over Gibraltar's sovereignty. The Foreign Office was also thrown on to the defensive by Mr Hoon's comments, insisting that there were no plans "at this stage".

When asked about the colony's sovereignty, the Defence Secretary said that the issue was "not something I would want to discuss" on the 300th anniversary.

"But this relationship - has evolved over time," he said. "The relationship today is very different from the one 30 or 40 years ago.

So there is an evolution. As the European Union develops, there may well be implications for Gibraltar."

Fears over the Rock's links with Britain were sparked by equi-vocal statements from ministers in recent years, with hints at joint use with Spain of military bases.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and his Spanish counterpart raised the idea of joint sovereignty, but the deal was ditched.

An unofficial referendum of 30,000 Gibraltarians rejected it by 99 per cent.

Shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram said Mr Hoon's comments were "extraordinary".

NEW WORDS, OLD GOAL

Our political correspondent adds: The Spaniards appear to have suddenly realised that they have to woo the Gibraltarians, as if the Gibraltarians were up for wooing.

The article by foreign minister Miguel Moratinos (which we published yesterday) tries to project a more agreeable posture by Spain, but there is no departure from the Spanish plan to try and take-over the Rock's sovereignty.

He lets the cat out of the bag when he says that in-depth negotiations over sovereignty cannot be developed adequately in an atmosphere of confrontation.

A meeting in London between Europe minister Denis MacShane and the Spanish ambassador Carlos Miranda has led to Spain saying that a way forward for negotiations is being worked out.

After the meeting Spanish prime minister Rodriguez Zapatero has also been waving the 'dialogue' flag.

On top of all this come the comments by Mr Hoon, which seems to close the door on sovereignty at this moment in time but leaves it open for the future.

Chinks in Spain's armour as Spaniards say Gibraltar belongs to the Gibraltarians

The Opposition says that it has received messages of support for Gibraltar from groups advocating independence for Catalunya and the Canary Islands.

These messages congratulate the Gibraltarians on their 300th birthday and encourage the people of Gibraltar to continue to pursue their legitimate struggle for self-determination and decolonisation.

The Catalans end their message with the wish that both Gibraltar and Catalunya should one day be free. They make the point that a group of Catalans accompanied the Anglo-Dutch force that captured Gibraltar, since Cataluyna was also supporting the Habsburg claimaint to the Spanish throne, the Archduke Charles of Austria.

GIB IS YOURS, THEY SAY

The Canary Islands independists tell the people of Gibraltar to stand firm against the Spanish claim secure in the knowledge that Gibraltar belongs to the Gibraltarians and nobody can take it away from us.

In addition there have been statements made in the Spanish press by other nationalist parties which the Opposition believes should be brought to the attention of the people of Gibraltar, given that what is normally given publicity are negative statements made by the central Government in Madrid.

The statements made confirm the view of the Opposition that nationalist parties in Spain are likely to be the most sympathetic to Gibraltar's right to self-determination.

The Opposition has long maintained that lobbying these parties is in the long-term interests of Gibraltar, and we have argued that their elected parliamentarians should be invited to Gibraltar for National Day as they were in the past.

The departure from the traditional hard-line policy on Gibraltar by moderate nationa-lists in Spain no longer allows Madrid to argue that all Spanish parties are united in seeking the re-absorbtion of Gibraltar into Spain. "There are now important chinks in Spain's armour, with representatives of parties in Government in two regions coming out in favour of Gibraltar and against the official line from Madrid," said an Opposition statement.

The President of the Basque Country yesterday told the media that it was up to the Gibraltarians to decide their own future.

The Opposition considers that this is possibly the highest ranking Spanish politican to make a supportive statements of this kind. This was a theme echoed by Inaki Agnasagasti, who is a PNV Senator on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Spanish Senate in Madrid.

He told the media that the Gibraltar issue is of absolutely no consequence to the ordinary Spaniard and added that it does not merit the importance given to it by the Spanish central Government. Mr Agnasagasti added that the Gibraltarians will have something to say about their own future, and they already made their wishes known in the November 2002 Referendum.

It is no coincidence that a delegation of parliamentarians from the Partido Nacionalista Vasco visited Gibraltar not that long ago in a fact-finding visit.

In Catalunya, Esquerra Republicana, which is part of the governing coalition in the region, have said that it is up to the Gibraltarians to decide their own future in exercise of their right to self-determination.

Esquerra have been long standing supporters of Gibraltar, and their leader now Carod Rovira came here for National Day two times before 1996.

In a significant development, the spokesman for the Bloque Nacionalista Gallego, in the Spanish Congress in Madrid has said that the reaction in Spain to Gibraltar is exaggerated adding that Spaniards have more important things to worry about.

While the spokesman for Iniciative Per Catalunya los Verdes has also said that the future of Gibraltar should be decided by the Gibraltarians.

This is the first time that there have been a number of political parties in Spain prepared to come out publicly at the same time and defend the Gibraltar view. The Opposition considers that this is a hugely significant development and is totally committed to continue to lobby moderate nationalist parties in Spain for support.

Our position has been completely vindicated.

Hands off our Rock!

Hands off our Rock! That was the unanimous message from Gibraltar as the 300th anniversary celebrations reached their peak.

The House of Assembly, sitting in special session, pledged to "resist and oppose" any transfer of Gibraltar's sovereignty to Spain.

A motion passed unanimously by the Government and the Opposition asserted "the inalienable right to self-determination of the people of Gibraltar" which "precludes both Britain and Spain "from negotiating our future other than at our request and with our consent."

The tercentenary was "a hugely significant" anniversary by any measure, said Chief Minister Peter Caruana. 300 years is a long time even in the history of nations. It was entirely appropriate that the House should mark the occasion by this special tercentenary meeting.

The political and geographical map of the world today reflects events of history - and Gibraltar cannot be made an exception.

He recalled the British servicemen who gave or risked their lives on 4 August and since then. We continue to be a 'home from home' to the armed forces, and they in turn have provided the foundations upon which the people of Gibraltar have been able to build a viable, prosperous and modern economy and community.

He thought it "entirely appropriate" that we should welcome defence secretary Geoff Hoon, who understands Gibraltar and its aspirations, a friend who appreciates the continued value of Gibraltar to Britain and the Services.

Opposition leader Joe Bossano was later to refer to Mr Hoon as "our defence minister". Mr Hoon was present in the House.

Mr Caruana said Gibraltar was blessed in enjoying cross-party support in Parliament and elsewhwere.

We also had to remember previous generations of Gibraltarians who had suffered and sacrificed much and who had shown the resolution and determination that we have inherited.

Those involved in the evacuation, people displaced from their homes, not knowing when or if they would return. And he urged the younger generations not to forget the sacrifices and steadfastness shown by the 'closed frontier' generation.

All of this had brought us closer as a people, reinforcing our identity, he said.

Gibraltar had become self-sufficient in the face of adversary.

Mr Caruana went on to say that we were proud of our history and made no apologies for it, and should not allow others to disqualify it. We are small but our handicaps strengthen rather than weaken our resolve in the face of challenge and denial.

He added: Gibraltar should not be regarded as an irritating problem to be solved for reasons of political and diplomatic expediency - it is a case of democratic right waiting to be fully respected by others.

We will never betray or surrender our right to self-determination.

He looked forward to engage with the UK in a process of constitutional reform and modernisation. He also valued friendly and constructive relations with Spain and was equally willing to work to maximise the opportunity in that regard. But relations must be based on mutual respect, "and we hope that it will be possible in the future."

HOMELAND

Mr Bossano made the point that on 4 August 1704 Gibraltar was captured and the Spanish flag was lowered and that it has remained so to date. The people of Gibraltar would not exist if the battle had gone the other way. What happened 300 years ago was very important to British and European history.

He added: We came of age a long time ago. This is our homeland - and absoluely no one has the right to discuss our future unless we want it.

The UK must recognise they cannot make any move, they cannot sit down and discuss our future with Spain.

He spokes of "the territorial integrity of our country."

Sovereignty was not up for discussion, let alone negotiation.

The future of Gibraltar is entirely in our own hands, he said.

Gibraltar would survive more centuries - but he was not sure if the Kingdom of Spain would!

Gibraltarians, he added, are here to stay.

WHAT HAPPENED

The other party leader in the House, Dr Joseph Garcia, said that in 1704 Gibraltar was freed from Bourbon Spain. What happened, happened, he said in reference to the Spanish foreign minister Miguel Moratinos who had made comments about what Dr Garcia had been saying in this respect.

Dr Garcia added: Spain must come to terms that they lost Gibraltar 300 years ago... and they must also understand that the British monarchy is our monarchy.

Spain must also understand that times have moved on, and that people and territories cannot be bandied about. "The future of this territory can only be decided by the people of this territory," he told the House. "A small colonial people cannot be bullied by Spain."

The House voted unanimously in a show of unity that put Gibraltar first.

Motion

Motion that was moved jointly by the Chief Minister and the Leader of the Opposition at the special Tercentenary meeting of the House of Assembly on 4th August.

"THIS HOUSE, the Parliament of the People of Gibraltar, with pride and satisfaction, this 4th day of August 2004:

(1) Commemorates and celebrates the 300th Anniversary of British Sovereignty of Gibraltar following the events of 4th August 1704;

(2) Expresses its warmest appreciation to Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal for her recent visit to share with the People of Gibraltar this important landmark in Gibraltar's history;

(3) Remembers with gratitude the courage of the many generations of British servicemen who from 1704 to date have defended, and served in, Gibraltar and celebrates the close links between Gibraltar and the British Armed Forces;

(4) Remembers with gratitude previous generations of Gibraltarians whose suffering, sacrifices, courage and determination established Gibraltar as the homeland of the Gibraltarians;

(5) Remembers with appreciation and affection the many fruits of our 300 years of British Sovereignty and the mutually beneficial relationship between Gibraltar and United Kingdom;

(6) Pledges to resist and oppose any discussion or negotiation against the wishes of the people of Gibraltar for the transfer to Spain of any part of the Sovereignty of Gibraltar;

(7) Asserts the inalienable right to self determination of the people of Gibraltar and calls upon the British Government and the Spanish Government to respect this right, which precludes them from negotiating our future other than at our request and with our consent;

Looks forward to the modernisation of the relationship between Gibraltar and the United Kingdom by the agreement of a new de-colonising constitution providing the maximum possible level of self government and guaranteeing exclusive British Sovereignty over the whole of the territory of Gibraltar for so long as the people of Gibraltar should so desire it."

Gibraltar student nominated to be National Scholar representing New York

A Gibraltar student has been nominated to be a National Scholar representing New York, which makes him a high-flyer.

He is Derek Carseni, 16, the son of a Gibraltarian who has lived in New York practically his whole adult life.

Derek is described as a very bright student and has made Honours List, Principals List as well as being voted one of the most popular students during his school years.

He has now received an invitation from the National Youth Leaders Conference which is extended to about 400 students throughout the United states.

The conference's objective is to attract potential graduates into the political arena. His goal is law.

The invitation says that he has been selected at St Anthony's High School as "an outstanding individual" who has achieved "academic excellence" and possesses "strong leadership potential."

Students who have been singled out, like Derek, have gone on to high places in America's public life, such as Chief Justice of the United States, Under-secretary of State, White House communications director, Director of the FBI, White House Press Secretary etc.

A letter from the Director of Admissions says: "As a National Scholar, you will be distinguished as one of the most promising young leaders of tomorrow... You will attend special functions including a presentation on the floor of the House of Representatives, a panel discussion with prominent journalists at the National Press Club and an issue briefing conducted by a senior member of President Bush's administration."

17,000 human chain to hug Gib homeland

By Elena Scialtiel

17,000 people held hands and sang "Happy Birthday, dear Gibraltar!" in a literally nationwide embrace to their homeland the Rock of Gibraltar yesterday morning, soon after the day had dawned on the 300th anniversary of the birth of a national identity.

Gibraltarians, guests and tourists started swarming out in the streets early to get at their assigned posts on time for the stunt, queuing up at the red caps distribution points or for the buses.

Then the lined up along the perimeter of their territory in a super-National-Day atmosphere, cheering and singing Happy Birthday.

The Chief Minister Peter Caruana, the Governor Sir Francis Richards, the Deputy Governor David Blunt and the First Sea Lord Sir Alan West and their wives joined the red dotted line at Queensway Quay and held hands with other Gibraltarians, amidst frantic flashes and videotaping of Spanish and British press.

The stunt peaked when an helicopter flew past to film aerial views of the dotted red human line and then participants slowly dispersed around town for a National Day dress rehearsal.

"A massive turnout" commented Paul Tunbridge, spokesman for the Hands Around the Rock organising committee, when he disclosed the official number of participants at a press conference right after the event.

"Thanks to all the people of Gibraltar for turning up and a special thanks to the Royal Gibraltar Police, because they have assisted us way beyond what we expected" he added.

The committee also confirmed that the signature of the Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon features on a poster the Governor and his entourage signed to be donated to the Gibraltar Museum together with the other memorabilia of the events, the aerial photographs and the list of all participants.

"I understand there was a small gap between Catalan Bay and Both Worlds, but we had a massive turnout at Watergardens and Queensway - but I think we shouldn't criticise anything of the arrangement just because there were gaps" Mr. Tunbridge said, highlighting that the real meaning of the event was for Gibraltar to "once again rise to the call of unity".

Was it a political message? It's all up to the interpretation observers may give to this history-making demonstration of unity.

But Mr. Tunbridge admitted that "in Gibraltar, every time they breathe, they give up a political message, because it's part of our survival and people".

But he went on describing the day as a day "when Gibraltarians have come out to enjoy themselves, which was the original intention."

Indeed Gibraltarians proved once again to be extraordinary in responding to the call of an original and ambitious project, that had its ups and downs but eventually made it successfully, proving that peaceful patriotism can be fun!

Spanish foreign minister: Beyond 4th August...

Gibraltar's economic and political future linked to Spain, and this sentiment is shared on both sides of the fence, he says

The commemoration of 4 August, the tercentenary of the occupation of Gibraltar, is an exclusively British matter, writes the Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos in an Opinion column in the daily El Pais.

It is strange that in the UE, in the 21st century, the military occupation of the territory of a member state by another member state should be commemorated, he says.

Moratinos adds that this cannot be compared with the recent celebrations in France of the second world war. It is now decades since that war ended...but the question of Gibraltar remains open.

No one cannot prevent the Gibraltarians commemorate their own history. It is evident that History, with a capital H, is full of brilliant episodes and of obscure events, and one should not renege of the second nor magnify the first. They should all enable us tolearn, to improve our present and to project the future with efficiency. The actual population of Gibraltar is linked to the tercentenary and as such it is logical that they should wish to evoke the past at this moment in time.

Moratinos then goes on to criticise the British government for having shown a clear lack of sensibility. He says that it would have been desirable that the British Government should have made a gesture towards the citizens of the municipalities neighbouring Gibraltar, descendants of the primitive population of the Rock, expelled or forced to emigrate after the military occupation of 1704.

The principal victim of that event was the Campo de Gibraltar, he writes. As a result of that occupation new cities and communities appeared in the area.

It is sarcastic, if not insulting, that some Gibraltar politician should dare say that what is now being commemorated is "the liberation of the Rock from the Spanish yoke."

PRIVILEGES

He speaks of the economic disadvantges suffered by the Campo because of Gibraltar's privileged fiscal and customs position, not sustainable in the EU.

The Spanish Government wants to work towards a global agreement satisfactory for all parts - Spain, UK, Gibraltar, the Campo de Gibraltar and the European Union. Confrontation will take us nowhere.

Within the framework of the negotiations over the questions of sovereignty, the Spanish government is willing to favour that there be established an intense and fruitful cooperation between Gibraltar and the Campo so that services can be rationalised and be of mutual benefit, but always that the Gibraltar economic model be perfectly compatible with EU norms.

The task ahead is not a game. The Gibraltar/Campo region could be one of the most economically and technologically developed in the peninsula, given its valuable position.

He speaks of economic potential in maritime transport, communications and tourism sectors. The existing infrastrures in the region should be shared, on a fair basis, for the global progress of its inhabitants.

Spanish policy towards Gibraltar wants to have a human face. He admits that in depth negotiations over sovereignty cannot be developed adequately in an atmosphere of confrontation.


PARTICIPATION

He speaks of Gibraltarian participation, with a suitable formula, if the negotiations are to serve for anything in practice and because Spain wants to build a shared future of conviviality in which the Gibraltarians will feel at ease ('a gusto').

He accused Britain of using the Gibraltarians or the Gibraltar government as a pretext for not advancing in the central issue, clearly of sovereignty.

Spain will defend its position firmly but prefers dialogue to provocation or confrontation.

Moratinos says that the economic development, progress and the political future of Gibraltar are linked to Spain. "I think this is a sentiment shared in the Gibraltar area on both sides of the fence," he writes.

Freedom for Royal Navy

Celebrations of 300 years of British Gibraltar culminated yesterday evening with the conferment of the Freedom of the city to Britain's Royal Navy, which led the capture of the Rock from Spain on 4 August 1704.

Britain's First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Alan West, received the 'freedom' scroll from the mayor of Gibraltar John Alcantara at a ceremony and parade.

The 'freedom' has been conferred on the Royal Navy "in recognition of its close association with Gibraltar over the past 300 years, as an expression of the regard, esteem and friendship in which the Royal Navy is held by the people of Gibraltar and in commemoration of the role that the Royal Navy has played in the social and economic development of Gibraltar and its people," says the award.

Some 300 servicemen later marched through Gibraltar's main street, with bayonets fixed, as tradition dictates for such an occasion.

Earlier yesterday, Admiral West spoke to the media about "the usefulness and importance" of Gibraltar to the Royal Navy.

The admiral and defence secretary Geoff Hoon earlier attended a special sitting of the House of Assembly. A large crowd which gathered outside in the sunshine, dressed in the red and white colours of Gibraltar and displaying a huge Union Jack, warmly applauded the two visitors.

A motion passed unanimously in the House yesterday "remembers with gratitude the courage of the many generations of British servicemen who from 1704 to date have defended and served in Gibraltar, and celebrates the close links between Gibraltar and the British armed forces."

Tories upset by Spain

By Matthew George,
Political Correspondent in London.


UK Conservative Party leaders Michael Howard have told of their pride at attending Gibraltar's tercentenary celebrations - and criticised the negative reaction of Madrid to the celebrations.

The party's two most senior figures flew to the Rock for the event, with leader Michael Howard breaking off from his summer holiday to join deputy leader and Shadow Foreign Secretary Michael Ancram.

Spain has continued to campaign to end British rule of the colony ever since 1704, and Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos described official UK support of the celebrations as unfriendly and insensitive to another EU member state.

But Mr Ancram rejected the criticism and described the special events as appropriate, insisting: "I think it is absolutely right. This is a very important moment in Gibraltar's history, 300 years of being British, which is rather longer than it was ever Spanish.

"It is also a celebration of the rights of the people of Gibraltar to remain British as long as they want to. The people who live on the Rock have, in a referendum less than two years ago, made it absolutely clear that they wish to remain British."

Mr Ancram said he was disappointed by the reaction of the Spanish authorities in Madrid. "It is a strange reaction to have from a European partner. I don't think what they are doing is at all constructive. I think it is counter-productive.

"It is going to increase the resolve of the people of Gibraltar to remain British, and in many ways it shows that the Spanish government doesn't understand the situation sufficiently to make the moves forward which I still believe can be made in relation to improving relations between Gibraltar and the Spanish government."

Brave...

Chief Minister Peter Caruana has described as conciliatory an article by Spanish foreign minister Miguel Moratinos published in El Pais (Article, page 4), also saying that the Moratinos line was "a brave and constructive novelty", said reports in Spain.

Menorca memories

Arriving in the island of menorca for his holidays, Spanish prime minister Rodriguez Zapatero said: We have a problem that is 300 years old. We have to approach it with caution, tranquility and dialogue...we are going to give ourselves a little time, and we hope that we will be able to open an opportunity for dialogue.

Menorca was British for 100 years.

Talks hope

After a meeting between Europe minister Denis MacShane and Spanish ambassador Carlos Miranda, the Spanish foreign ministry takes the view that London and Madrid will be working on a new approavh to open negotiations.

Unbearable

The PSOE ruling party's spokeswoman on international affairs, Trinidad Jimenez, has described as "unbearable" that Gibraltar's sovereignty should be British, and was also critical of a UK minister paying an official visit to Gibraltar. She wants to visit Gibraltar in the autumn.

Gib in Andalucia

The Left-wing party Izquierda Unida said yesterday that once Gibraltar ceases to be a colony it should become a part of Andalucia.

Blair defends Hoon Rock visit

SPECIAL for PANORAMA

By Matthew George,
Parliamentary Correspondent,
in London.


Tony Blair has defended the decision that UK Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon will visit Gibraltar for the Rock's tercentenary on August 4.

The formal announcement that Mr Hoon will join the significant Ministry of Defence delegation was made in London by Downing Street on Monday (August 2).

Spanish Foreign Secretary Miguel Angel Moratinos is disappointed by the news, which had not been previously confirmed for security reasons.

But when questioned about this at the weekly briefing for political correspondents, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman insisted that it was entirely appropriate that the Secretary of State for Defence should attend such an important occasion.

She said: "We have a good relationship with Spain, which is an EU and Nato partner. This event on Wednesday would be appropriate for a member of the Cabinet to attend the ceremonies there. I do not think there is any difficulty on that."

Mr Moratinos has said it was "not easy to maintain normal relations with Great Britain" because of the Gibraltar issue.

And Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said a visit by Mr Hoon would be "inopportune".

The comments will anger those in Gibraltar who feel they are a cynical attempt to overshadow the August 4 celebrations, the centrepiece of the tercentenary.

They follow an equally sour response to the visit in June by the Princess Royal, Princess Anne, and a port call last month by the British submarine Tireless.

Scores of Members of the UK Parliament from all parties have signed a special House of Commons motion backing the tercentenary celebrations following the Spanish outcry over the official visit by the Princess Royal.

MOTION

Spain also claimed that event was "inopportune" but many UK MPs felt it was entirely inappropriate for the Spanish to react in that way.

* The early day motion reads: "That this House celebrates with pride the 300 years of Gibraltar's British history and sovereignty which have been commemorated with a series of events, including the tercentenary service of thanksgiving and celebration at St Clement Danes, Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal's official visit, and numerous heritage sporting, youth and military events, which will culminate in Gibraltarians linking arms around the Rock on 4th August; and believes that the sovereignty of Gibraltar should always be determined only by the people of Gibraltar themselves."

Hoon arrives on the Rock

Amid strict security, the Defence Secretary Geoffrey Hoon arrived in Gibraltar yesterday afternoon to attend a series of acts in commemoration of 300 years of British rule. He flew in together with Admiral Sir Alan West, the First Sea Lord, who is the head of the Royal Navy.

The Spanish Government has described the visit by Hoon as 'inappropriate' and an 'unfriendly act'.

Admiral West has raised his flag on the frigate HMS Grafton, which made a ceremonial entrance into Gibraltar harbour on Saturday.

Mr Hoon was greeted by local dignitaries.

Alarm over external borders

The Labour Party says it notes with a mixture of concern and satisfaction the Gibraltar Government’s strongly worded statement regarding the deal done by the British Government excluding Gibraltar from participation in the EU’s External Frontiers Agency.

The Party is concerned by this action of the British Government because it is of very great significance to Gibraltar in the definition of our geographical and political territory that our frontiers should conform with EU external frontiers. The defence implications are serious enough in themselves, since our exclusion means that Spain can argue in the future that in this important sense Gibraltar is not part of the EU, in spite of the critical role our territory plays in the strategic and practical defence of actual EU frontiers at one of their most vulnerable point.

In expressing its anger and dismay at this British Government decision, our Government has rightly recalled the similarity it bears with our exclusion from EU Aviation and single Sky policy. The similarity is obvious and represents yet another example of the two nations states taking decisions vitally affecting Gibraltar without prior consultation of our Government.

More importantly what we are seeing is a blatant policy of systematic bi-lateralism in relation to the two nations dealings with Gibraltar, which is spilling over from the Brussels Agreement into the European Union.

"We have repeatedly stated that the EU Constitution changes the whole relationship of Gibraltar to the EU by virtue of the recent Joint Declaration. It will give bi-latarilism a constitutional basis, so that the policy of the two powers deciding the application of EU decisions to Gibraltar will no longer be a matter of individual decisions, however unpalatable and unfair to Gibraltar, but the routine and constitutionally justified manner, in which the EU will deal with a very wide variety of issues, particularly but not exclusively those coming under the heading of Home and Judicial matters. If the Constitution goes through, bi-lateralism will have been entrenched," they say.

And add: Our satisfaction is limited to the fact that at last the Gibraltar Government appears to be adopting the tone of alarm that we have long argued was called for since the Convention began its deliberations in pursuit of a European Constitution. In spite of some apparently robust decisions taken by the British Government in resisting Spanish protests this year, it is increasingly clear that the Blair Government’s intention is to establish in an incontestable way and on a permanent constitutional basis the right of the two Governments to decide EU matters for Gibraltar. This has been the pattern which began with the resumption of the Brussels Process and the Principles of Agreement and which will reach its conclusion if and when the European Constitution is adopted."

Fine words that mean nothing, says VOGG

Since the beginning of the year, the VOGG says it has regularly called for vigilance regarding any possible 'slip-in' from Blair, Straw, MacShane & Co., whilst the People of Gibraltar indulged in the 'euphoria' of the tercentenary celebrations.

Now, on the eve of the most significant of these, HMG excludes The Rock from the External Frontiers Agency. 'Slip-in' has a more appropriate colloquial expression, but is unprintable. Suffice to say that it refers to a part of the anatomy that is in regular contact with toilet-paper.

They add: So much for all those military parades and fine words of 'Britishness' at lavish parties, receptions and functions in London. The 'distinguished guests', in the meantime, are gathering in flocks to hold hand with the Gibraltarians. The Gibraltarians may be cuckold, but need not be acquiescent.

The Governor, in his continuous efforts to 'build bridges', must find it rather frustrating that access to these are periodically closed by the mandarins at the F&CO. No doubt, he will persevere with the most honourable of intentions, but by the end of his term of office, nothing will have changed, unless there is a change of government in the UK.

The VOGG welcomes the Gibraltar Government's condemnation of the latest exclusion and calls on all political and social forces to support and assist in legally challenging it. Habitual mud-slinging will not help the cause. The 'Coca-Cola row' is enough for one summer.

As a parting thought, a quote from Jean Paul Satre:

'In the colonies, the truth stood naked, but the citizens of the mother country preferred it with clothes on'.

Anti-Money laundering net widened

The Financial Services Commission issued a consultation paper on the 10th June on proposed amendments to its Anti-Money Laundering Guidance Notes. This consultation paper anticipated amendments to the Criminal Justice Ordinance 1995 which came into effect on the 22nd July.

A statement from the FSC adds: The amendments to the Criminal Justice Ordinance 1995 now also require auditors, external accountants, tax advisors, real estate agents, notaries, legal professionals, dealers in high value goods and casinos as well as providers of company managerial services, professional trustees, insurance intermediaries and insurance managers to comply with the anti-money laundering systems of control.

The FSC’s consultation process seeks to update the Know Your Customer processes of financial institutions to a more risk based approach and to provide more user friendly guidance for the industry.

The FSC is reminding all interested parties that replies to its consultation paper is required, in writing, by 10th August 2004. Copies of the consultation paper can be downloaded from the FSC’s web-site at www.fsc.gi.

BACKGROUND

• The amendments to the Criminal Justice Ordinance 1995 (“CJO”) were effected by the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Ordinance 2004 (ORD 14 of 2004) which in the main transposed the 2nd Money Laundering Directive but also made a number of other amendments.

• The complete list of business covered by the CJO is:

o deposit-taking business carried on by a person who is for the time being an authorised institution under the Banking Ordinance 1992*;

o acceptance by a building society of deposits made by any person (including the raising of money from members of the society by the issue of shares);

o business of the Savings Bank*;

o any home regulated activity carried on by a European institution*;

o investment business within the meaning of the Financial Services Ordinance 1989*;

o any of the activities in points 1 to 12 or 14 of the Annex I to the Consolidated Banking Directive other than an activity falling within sub-paragraphs (a) to (e) above*;

o insurance business carried on by a person who has received official authorisation pursuant to Article 6 or 27 of the First Life Directive*;

o auditors, external accountants and tax advisors;

o real estate agents;

o notaries and other independent legal professionals, when they participate whether-

• by assisting in the planning or execution of transactions for their client concerning the-

• buying and selling of real property or business entities;

• managing of client money, securities or other assets;

• opening or management of bank, savings or securities accounts; or

• by acting on behalf of and for their client in any financial or real estate transaction;

o controlled activity under the Financial Services Ordinance 1989*;

o dealers in all high value goods whenever payment is made in cash and in an amount of EUR 15 000 or more;

o casinos;

o currency exchange offices / bureau de change*;

o money transmission / remittance offices*.

• The Anti-Money Laundering Guidance Notes issued by the FSC and F&DS only apply to the businesses marked with an * above.

• It is understood that Government of Gibraltar will be publishing its own Guidance Notes for other sectors caught by the recent amendments.

• Currency Exchanges/Bureau de Change/Money Transmission or Remittance Offices were previously covered by the CJO and the recent amendments only clarify their previous inclusion.

The writing is on the wall Young and old say: This is our Rock

Young and older people have a message in common: That this is their Rock, that Gibraltar is their homeland.

Up at Moorish Castle Estate young Joelle Baglietto has adorned some walls in the area with paintings that say: We shall never surrender.

She has been busy at it with the help of other neighbours and especially the Moorish Castle Estate tenants association, who have helped with the paint.

Down town, you cannot see Bishop Canilla House for the flags! The place is an array of Union Jacks and Gibraltar flags, the senior citizens having again shown the way.

And the interior of the building is equally in a festive mood. There, some pass the time away reading PANORAMA, the paper that never lets Gibraltar down!

Chamber in 'Buy in Gibraltar' campaign

by PANORAMA reporter

The Chamber of Commerce have come up with the idea of starting a Buy in Gibraltar campaign.

This is because, according to the Chamber, "a substantial amount of money earned in Gibraltar is spent across the border."

Members of the Chamber are being circulated with a mes sage signed by George Desoisa, Director for Retail and Wholesale, putting forward the plan.

Buying in Gibraltar is not only good to the particular shop where the purchase is made, he says, but also for the general economy of Gibraltar, as well as to the actual purchaser.

What prompts the Chamber to move in that direction?

Says the message to members: GOG is constantly, and rightly so, trying to promote Gibraltar as a tourist destination.

'OUR DUTY'

Mr Desoisa adds: "Your Board feel it is our duty, together with you, the membership, to promote Gibraltar as the great shopping centre that it is, to the local consumers."

Members are being asked to "please try your utmost to support this initiative."

They are then asked to supply a respond "stating whether you are interested in supporting Gibraltar's commerce or not."

Mr Desoisa adds: Once we compile all responses we will revert with more information as to the strategy for this campaign and details of the support being sought.

Anglo-Spanish row deepens as visit to Gibraltar of Hoon causes upset

The row between Spain and Britain over the tercentenary deepened over the weekend. The row erupted when it became known that defence secretary Geoff Hoon would be visiting Gibraltar for the occasion.

The Spanish deputy prime minister and the foreign minister said this was an inopportune visit and an unfriendly act by Britain.

While the former was suggesting that Spain might retaliate, this was later toned down by a Spanish foreign office official.

The British ambassador Stephen Wright was summoned and told of Spain being upset by it all. The Spaniards see it as "another unfriendly act", and point at the official visit by Princess Anne and also at the visit of the submarine Tireless.

While Mr Wright provided the Spanish with "a series of excuses and explanations", this is not enough for us, said the foreign minister MiguelAngel Moratinos.

Following the line taken by the Madrid government, socialists down the line - to the nearest Spanish mayor - took a similar view.

In London, the MOD was neither confirming nor denying that Mr Hoon would be visiting "for security reasons", although in Gibraltar it was reported that the visit would take place on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Spanish defence minister Jose Bono, who recently described Tony Blair as an 'absolute dickhead', said he had received a letter from Mr Hoon confirming the visit and asking that it should not be interpreted as a hostile act.

Sr Bono said he would not be replying to show his annoyance.

Europe minister Denis MacShane who 'by chance' happened to be in Spain was also told off by the Spaniards. He said that the UK government had to send a minister because both the Conservative and the Liberal Democrats were sending representatives to the tercentenary.


Alberto Navarro, a senior official at the Spanish foreign ministry, said it was not their intention to go any further from what had already been announced. But they will be carefully following Mr Hoon's visit on 4 August.

HEAR NOTHING, SAY NOTHING...

A reporter for the Spanish daily ABC said that Britain does not want to know about the Spanish protest. The UK press had said nothing, nor the Foreign Office or MOD websites.

When he asked the Foreign Office if Mr Hoon was coming, he was told to ring the MOD where they did not wish to confirm anything.

The whole thing is developing into a row between the Spanish government and the main opposition party PP, who were critical of the inability of prime minister Rodriguez Zapatero of having a normal, logical and constructive relationship with Britain.

British woman found stabbed to death in La Linea

*Her partner, another Briton, claimed as having been involved, also dies

A British woman who works in Gibraltar has been stabbed to death in La Linea by her partner, it was claimed there. He also died subsequently.

It happened in the flat in La Linea which both had shared for some 3 years.

Spanish reports say that Julie Belvoir, 34, was allegedly stabbed in the neck with a kitchen knife.

Her partner was named as raham Smith, 48, by the La Linea hospital where he had been taken unconscious on Friday evening. He was later taken to the Cadiz hospital for special attention, where he died during the night.

Friends are said to have been shocked by the sad news.

Major human rights symposium for Gibraltar

Gibraltar is to host a major international human rights symposium on the 2nd and 3rd September this year. The Symposium will bring together judges, Lawyers, parliamentarians and academics from Gibraltar and around the Commonwealth in recognition of Gibraltar's Tercentenary. Delegates and speakers from over twenty countries in the Commonwealth are already registered to attend.

The objectives of the Symposium are to examine human rights principles and standards set by global and Commonwealth organisations, examine issues facing society today, encourage implementation and raise public awareness in order to achieve a culture of human rights not only in Gibraltar but internationally.

The Gibraltar Judiciary is facilitating the Symposium which is convened by HS Consultants. The organising committee has been drawn from the local Bar, including the Attorney-General's chambers, the Judiciary, Anne Schofield of HS Consultants, and is chaired by barrister Gillian Guzman.

The Symposium has the support of the Gibraltar Government, the Bar Council of Gibraltar, the Commonwealth Magistrates' and Judges' Association, the Commonwealth Lawyers' Association, and the Commonwealth Legal Education Association, and the Presidents of the latter two Associations will be presenting addresses. Other speakers include Madam Desiree Bernard, Chancellor of the Guyana Judiciary, Sir David Simmons, Chief Justice of Barbados, Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, President of the Family Division of the High Court of England, the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Council, the President-elect of the Iowa Bar, Gibraltar's Attorney-General and Keith Azopardi of Messrs. Attias and Levy. Chief Justices and other senior judges, lawyers and academics from countries as far afield as South Africa, Kenya, Malaysia, Australia, Canada and the Caribbean, together with a good representation from England, are registered to attend.

SUPPORT

Overwhelming support has been received from the Bar, the Government and the Community. There is a high turn out from the local Bar. Representatives of the Gibraltar Government, local parliamentarians, the office of the Ombudsman, the Police and the Regulatory Authority will be attending the Symposium. The organisers are delighted that law students attached to the various law firms together with students from Westside and Bayside schools will be fully participating in the event and assisting during the conference, recognising the importance of young people in creating a culture of human rights.

The event will provide an opportunity for delegates to exchange ideas and experiences in different areas of topical concern such as the fight against terrorism and international crime, the right to a fair trial before international tribunals, righting miscarriages of justice, the changing face of family law and domestic violence.

In hosting the Symposium, the organisers are endorsing the spirit of the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education 1995-2004 which called upon governments, international organisations, non-governmental organisations, professional associations, and all other sectors of civil society to concentrate their efforts during the ten year period in promoting a culture of human rights. The event will place Gibraltar amongst countries actively promoting human rights at a local and an international level.

SPONSORS

The spirit of the Symposium has been evident from the support received from its sponsors. The main sponsors of the Symposium are Hassans, Isola and Isola, Triay and Triay, Other Sponsors include Attias and Levy, Barclays Bank, Marrache and Co., Charles Gomez and Co., Budhrani and Co., Denton Wilde and Sapte, and Cruz & Co.

The organisers are confident that the community will give a warm welcome to our overseas visitors who will be here to share Gibraltar's Tercentenary.

Simon Hughes in Gibraltar for Tercentenary Day

Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes will be coming to Gibraltar for Tercentenary Day.

Mr Hughes is a staunch supporter of Gibraltar who has been here for National Day three times in order to back the right to self-determination of the Gibraltarians. In 2002 his constituency party tabled a policy motion at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference in Brighton in support of the rights of the people of Gibraltar. This is the first and only time that one of the three major parties in the United Kingdom has debated Gibraltar.

Mr Hughes will be participating in several of the events that have been planned for the evening of 3 August and for Tercentenary Day itself 4 August.

Simon Hughes said "I am looking forward to celebrating the Tercentenary with my many friends in Gibraltar. The capture of Gibraltar by Anglo-Dutch troops in 1704 marks the start of profound links between the people of Gibraltar and the people of Britain. Long may those links continue."

For his part the Leader of the Liberal Party Dr Joseph Garcia said that Simon Hughes was a great friend of Gibraltar and that he was very welcome here.

Dangerous toxic levels: Who is to blame?

The ESG responds to the announcement by CEPSA in the Spanish press that it was not responsible for the latest toxic sulphur levels in the Bay, and says that given the spread of industry it is clear that ambient monitoring stations alone are insufficient to accurately apportion blame; indeed it is also why environmentalists believe this system is favoured over and above the more accurate monitoring at source system.

MONITORING

The ESG has long been calling for the need to introduce monitoring at source for industry, especially when located near residential areas, but in any event, to ensure proper compliance by industry as to what they are allowed to push out into the air or water atmospheres.

The recent denial by CEPSA that it was responsible for the dangerous sulphur levels, does not, therefore, come as a surprise, as it is difficult for anyone to prove otherwise.

The ESG adds: It will not have escaped the notice of the residents of the Bay that the adverse climatic conditions (called the summer), referred to as impeding proper dispersal of pollutants and therefore compliance with environmental regulations, that massive toxic escapes have been witnessed regularly from CEPSA and the power stations either side of the refinery.

These are visible from the Rock although the ESG are sure that the various industries located behind the refinery will also be contributing to this deadly cocktail that recently has been causing alarm signals to be sent out when checked by the monitoring stations.

POLLUTION

The ESG reiterates its calls to communities on both sides of the border to fill in the pollution log sheets published and to contact members of the Bay Bucket Brigade when noticing a toxic release to enable the team to spring into action and help identify the polluter at the right time.

The ESG states that the communities on both sides of the border have every reason to fear these emissions that are medically proven to cause very serious effects on health and that therefore every effort must be made to make industries accountable and reduce their pollution NOW.

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