What remains on record as official policy is Moratinos letter, while Spanish Civil Servant wants Gibraltar to swallow that Moratinos letter is innocent
|Jose Pons, the Spanish civil servant that has been negotiating with Mr Caruana in the tripartite talks, has made remarks clearly intended as damage limitation and to get us in Gibraltar to swallow that the contents of the Moratinos letter is innocent, says the GSLP/Liberal opposition in a statement.
It is questionable whether he has the authority to reinterpret the statement issued by Mr Moratinos, the Spanish foreign minister, they add, and go on to recall that as far back as November 2005 Granada MP Rafael Estrella said that the constitutional proposals under discussion could not alter Gibraltar?s status as a colony because this was a red line for the Spanish Government. He also said UK would not agree to any change in Gibraltar?s status without Spain?s aquiescence. This is what is repeated in the Moratinos letter.
The Opposition adds: On 15 March, the day that the final round of negotiations started, Mr Estrella fired a warning shot saying that Gibraltar had to remain a colony or become Spanish and that there was not any other option, reaffirming the Franco policy of 1964.
On 17 March, even before the negotiations closed, the Spanish Government issued a statement saying how happy it was at the outcome of the negotiations of Gibraltar?s new constitution. It claimed the outcome reflected Spain?s demands and that this had been possible because of the new climate of mutual confidence created by the tripartite talks, where Mr Pons sits, and which he suspended pending the outcome of the new constitution.
The latest statement from Mr Moratinos claiming to have received guarantees which Mr Pons claims had been provided covers exactly the same ground that Spain has been making over this period.
"The fact remains that what is on record as the official position is the statement made by Mr Moratinos and not the attempts to play them down by Mr Pons over the telephone in answer to questions from the press," they say.
Gibraltar's decolonisation 'none of Spain's business'
The statement issued by Mr Caruana last week is "a deliberate, self-serving misrepresentation of what the Opposition has said."
The Opposition adds that it has has made no comment whatsoever on what Mr Caruana has asked the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to do.
The content of Mr Caruana?s letter to Jack Straw, or Jack Straw?s letter to Mr Caruana, or Jack Straw?s second letter to Mr Moratinos at Mr Caruana?s request, none of which was known at the time of our previous statement, had nothing to do with the press release issued by the Opposition on 29 March.
In it, the Opposition attacked Moratino?s reply to Jack Straw and also highlighted the fact that Straw should not have written to him in the first place to give him any explanation as to the contents or the outcome of the negotiations on Gibraltar?s decolonisation.
Mr Caruana of course may no longer agree with this view, but when the negotiations with London opened in November 2004 the UK delegation was told that the constitutional reviesw to bring about Gibraltar?s decolonisation, which was about to start, was a matter for Gibraltar and London only.
"As has been made abundantly clear on very, many occasions the Opposition?s view is that the agreement to decolonise Gibraltar, is none of Spain?s business whatsoever, does not require their consent, and they have no right to have their concerns taken into account, to be kept informed during the process, or to be given explanations at the end of it to ensure that they are satisfied with the result," says a statement.
It adds: As regards the use of the words "applicable principles", it is Mr Caruana who is being untruthful in his statements about the negotiations on the wording surrounding the new constitution. Mr Caruana claims that it is the Opposition who says that this was agreed at a meeting between him and Mr Straw and that this is not true.
Either Mr Caruana?s statement is mendacious now or it was mendacious on 2 March when he said that he said that he had secured Mr Straw?s agreement to the use of the words "applicable principles".
The record of the meeting at the Caleta Hotel in September 2005 makes clear that although the words were suggested, the matter was left open. A few weeks later the same words appeared for the first time, by agreement between London and Madrid, in the UN text on Gibraltar?s decolonisation.
The Opposition believes this is no accident and wanted the words taken out from the Gibraltar Constitution.
At the meeting of the Gibraltar delegation before the last round of talks in London, after a heated discussion which lasted over one hour, Mr Caruana?s position was that the agreement he had achieved in London had now been signed off by Ministers and that it would be very difficult to go back and reopen the question.
However, it was eventually agreed that the matter would be raised on behalf of the Opposition by Joe Bossano and not on behalf of the Gibraltar delegation. However, when the point was reached in the second day of the negotiations in London, Mr Chilcott announced that he was aware of the debate that had taken place in Gibraltar and that the offending words would be replaced.
At no time did Mr Chilcott or anyone else make any reference to these words being capable of an interpretation that includes the possibility of the principle of territorial integrity since the matter was not discussed at all.
It is therefore absurd for the Government to claim that the words were removed because they were innocent and that it vindicates their position, when their position was that they should remain, says the Opposition.
And they add: What is clear, and what the Opposition has highlighted in its previous statement, is that the words ?applicable principles? were referred to by Mr Moratinos in his letter to Jack Straw as if they were still in the text. He also refers to the United Nations Consenus of last October where these words appear. The link has been made by Spain except that because the words have been removed from the constitutional text they are no longer there. This is the important point for the public to note.