'UK will accept referendum as exercise of self-determination'

The UK will recognise and accept that the referendum will constitute an exercise of the right of self-determination. That is the belief of the chief minister Peter Caruana.

Yesterday, he told the UN committee of 24: "We hope that you will take the same view."

Mr Caruana had earlier said that Spain believes that, because of the existence of its sovereignty claim, the only manner of decolonisation that the UN will endorse in the case of Gibraltar is that our sovereignty should be transferred to Spain.

The position of the UK is that we do enjoy the right to self-determination but that it is constrained by the Treaty of Utrecht and that we cannot opt for independence. "We roundly reject the UK's view that our right to self-determination is constrained in that way or at all," he said, adding that the UK has already declared that the new constitution establishes a relationship between Gibraltar and the UK that is non-colonial.

In that context he added that he believed that the UK would recognise and accept the referendum as constituting an exercise of the right to self-determination, and expressed the hope that the UN would take the same view.


For his part, Opposition leader Joe Bossano told the committee that he has fully supported their objectives for the eradication of colonialism and "wanted your involvement in our decolonization process and so I turn to you once again."

He added: If the committee considers that, in the light of the information that I have provided, the planned referendum is an act of self-determination, which is the only applicable principle in the decolonisation process...If you agree that there is something called de-facto decolonisation triggered by a constitution that can be described as modern and mature, then I will bow to your greater wisdom.

But he would not accept de-facto endorsement of a continuation of the colonial status, if it would amount to the endorsement of the Spanish line that there is only one option open to us.

"This I will not accept an I will not remain silent, while the people of the territory are told they would be voting for something when in reality they would be voting for the opposite," Mr Bossano said.