How the UK defended Gibraltar’s INTERESTS
|by Leo Olivero
The meeting between Mt. Hague and Mr. Margallo in London on Tuesday and the subsequent press release from the UK and short comment from the Spanish foreign ministers has whipped up a form of collective hysteria in Gibraltar, this amongst a number of people who, although I must say, I don’t know what they expected.
The Wrong Conclusions by Some!
If people on the rock thought that the outcome of these ministerial talks in London was going to lead to a declaration of war, or the breaking up of diplomatic relations between UK and Spain or that Britain was going to send its mediterranean fleet (if it had one) to Gibraltar or even that the two countries were going to verbally slag each other off in public, than, ‘they certainly got the wrong end of the diplomatic stick’ particularly if you consider the present international and european political climate.
No sooner were the statements released by Hague and Margallo than there was some ridiculous calls for the removal of union jacks from balconies, shop windows and all the bunting in main street. Many people then went on to chastise the UK for not sticking up for Gibraltar and for dumping the fishing problem on the Gibraltar Government to deal with.
But who says that the UK did not support Gibraltar in all this? Certain people in my view have come to the completely wrong assumption on this matter!
In a way, I can understand that people’s emotions have been running high for the last couple of weeks; it has seen this issue amplified, thrashed and discussed at least 14 hours a day.
Although particularly on local social networking groups when debating the incidents in the bay with the guardia civil and fishing boats, traffic queues, also add the Spanish media machinery hitting at us in a totally partisan press, and then the Madrid Government ‘playing to the spanish gallery’ with ministers blabbering all kinds of nonsensical rhetoric against the rock. Yes many people have worked themselves up to a near frenzy.
But even though some people expected more from the meeting in London, one has to analyse not what was said in public, but what was said in Mr Hague’s Office and not made public.
If the post meeting statement from Mr. Hague and the doorstep comment by Mr Margallo (that was in answer to a specific question by a reporter) is analysed in an impassionate manner, I can’t see how any assumption can be drawn that the British Foreign Secretary did not stand up and support Gibraltar.
As Panorama headlined yesterday, it was obvious that Hague clashed with his spanish counterpart.
Mr, Hague press release has to be read in its ‘proper diplomatic context’ which is what British diplomacy is renowned for. Mr Hague said "We reiterated our joint support for a local solution to the current fishing dispute in Gibraltar. Clearly our views on this differ, but we both recognise the importance of establishing a dialogue between all parties. I look forward to working closely with the Minister in the future."
Mr. Hague said ‘Clearly our views on this differ’ this meaning just that, that the British and Spanish political ‘stand point of views are polls apart’ and if Margallo went to London thinking he was going to make some head way (which I’m sure in private he didn’t) than the head of spanish diplomatic relations ‘thought wrong’ and his trip to London was a failure.
Did anyone see Mr. Hague shake Margallo hand as he left? No…because he didn’t! This another sign that the meeting was not as cordial as we have been led to believe.
Margallo Not a Happy Bunny!
The official comment by Mr. Hague although short was in writing for ‘clarity’s sake’ unlike ‘Mr Margallo who gave a quick exit door comment and 48 hours later has hardly said anything closely imitating a ‘victory in London over Gibraltar, or anything else in relation to his meeting in the UK.
The Spanish foreign ministers own deportment as he left the meeting was also a dead give away, gone were all the cockiness and statements he had made before arriving in London. He said nothing positive from a Spanish point of view! Because I am sure that had Mr. Margallo hyped up his comments to make it look as if he had been triumphant, he would have known that Mr Hague would have countered that, hence, Mr. Hague releasing his own printed statement to avoid misunderstandings on how the meeting really went.
However to stress the point further, even after the meeting in London the Fishing Problem has been downgraded in the spanish press, there are no reports of a ‘Margallo Success or the spanish foreign minister himself hailing such a victory…Which he Obviously Would Have Hailed…Had That Been the Case!
Gibraltar Declared The Official Competent Authority
Of course the Gibraltar Government were pleased with the outcome of the meeting as they said we are “pleased that it is recognised and accepted by all parties that only Gibraltar has the jurisdictional competence to deal with the issues that . arise in respect of the ongoing breaches of the Nature Protection Act in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters”
This point is vitally important, for the first time there is governmental agreement (particularly from the Spanish side) that the competent authority in enforcing the laws in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters rest with the Government of Gibraltar… that in itself is a significant development that must not be underestimated.
A New Part to the Present Problem
From here, my opinion is that the Government who have already embarked on a process of negotiations, which in fact is at an advanced stage ‘has had it rubber stamped by the meeting in the UK confirming Gibraltar’s competency’ and this process has to go ahead because it is now what everybody wants! The only sticking point is the Guardia Civil (GC) and if they were to continue body-guarding the fishing boats, who under the memorandum of understanding (MOU) should not be illegally fishing in Gibraltar waters anyway or at all.
However it will be practically impossible for the MOU to continue or make any headway if fishing and the GC continue to ignore local authorities by remaining in our waters. Under these circumstances I believe the Gibraltar Government has to throw the ball back into the ‘British and Spanish Governments Political Courts’ and demand that this practice by the GC must desist, as it would seriously hamper or even put an end to any possible conclusion. The joint working group (particularly from a local perspective) should not work under undue pressure by having the GC and fishing boats breaking our laws whilst this important and delicate process is on going.
Anti-UK Reaction Uncalled For!
The call by some over the last 48 hours to remove union jacks is 1000% uncalled for.
I said a few weeks ago on a similar issue how quick quite a few locals are to pounce on the UK and tear into Britain at the first sign of something they don’t like, particularly in this case without having first thought through everything that had transpired during and after the meeting in London on Tuesday.
The Spanish Government would love it if we all went and removed our flags and bunting and did not support or respect ‘OUR QUEENS’ 60 Jubilee Anniversary, not only the Spaniards would go wild but a few in Gibraltar as well.
However in this vein, and considering all that Spain is attempting to do to Gibraltar and its people lets see ‘how many people have stood up and said enough is enough lets have a demonstration against spain about all the harassment of Gibraltarians, how many demonstrations have we had or are in the pipe-line. NONE.
And just look how many people made up all kinds of excuses not to go or support the demonstration on the ‘Bullfighting conferences at the Cervantes Institute’ I recall ‘freedom of expression’ was a popular excuse used by those who did not want to get involved. I’m sure the Spanish government know all about people’s rights and democracy, particular the rights of the people of Gibraltar.
I could mention many more such like instances, but certainly in Gibraltar we are not the people we were at one time.
Hitting out unjustly at the United Kingdom because certain people here have not heard or seen what they would have liked, is something that as far as I am concerned:
‘Goes into Dangerous Territory - because Gibraltar only has one major power to fall back on for any kind of support, and it is not certainly beyond the frontier, but in the Halls of Westminster London UK.