Unlike other British Overseas Territories, Gibraltar was a part of the EU prior to Brexit. The heavily militarised island, which has become a symbol of British naval power and has gained the nickname “the Rock”, voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, with 95 percent of voters choosing this option. Since the referendum, Spain’s acting Foreign Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, renewed calls for joint Spanish–British control of the peninsula, and now the country insist the UK come to the negotiating table over Gibraltar.
In his annual address to the UN Decolonisation Committee yesterday, the Spanish ambassador, Agustín Santos, repeated that only negotiations between Madrid and London can overcome Gibraltar’s “colonial” status.
He added they would always take into account “the interests of the population of the territory”.
Gibraltar’s chief minister, Fabián Picardo, insisted that “the Gibraltarian people” would not accept any solution proposed in their name and without their participation.
While the UK reached an agreement with Spain on December 31, 2020 that Gibraltar would serve as the basis of a later agreement between the countries, Mr Santos said: “Nothing in that understanding implies a modification of Spain’s legal position with regard to sovereignty and jurisdiction in relation to Gibraltar.”
The ambassador added that other than the question of sovereignty, Spain is open to “agreements with the United Kingdom that allow for regional cooperation schemes for the direct benefit of the inhabitants on both sides of the fence under the idea of shared prosperity”.
Gibraltar has expressed frustration with its future being determined by two countries other than itself.
In April 2017, Theresa May reiterated that “the UK would seek the best possible deal for Gibraltar as the UK exits the EU, and there would be no negotiation on the sovereignty of Gibraltar without the consent of its people.”
At the UN committee, Mr Picardo asked the organisation to remove the Rock from the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.
He insisted on Gibraltar’s right to self-determination, though added that this would not include “avoiding cooperation with our neighbours despite our differences on fundamental issues”.
He added that Gibraltar’s former chief minister Sir Joshua Hassan claimed the same right before the committee 59 years ago.
Mr Picardo went on to say: “And, while we remain on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories, we will always ensure that the voice of Gibraltarians is heard in this Committee, despite the distance we must travel for a brief hearing.
“We make the long journey to make this short speech because the people of Gibraltar only want the exercise of their right to self-determination to be respected.
“We just want to be decolonised, as many of the countries in this room were decolonised. We just want to exercise the same right that they exercised.
“To that end, for 30 years, Madam President, we have repeatedly asked the Committee to visit Gibraltar. But it has not done so.”
READ MORE: EU deal ‘close’ for Gibraltar while bloc refuses to budge on UK pact [REVEAL]
Mr Picardo ended with a plea to the Chair of the Committee, Keisha Aniya McGuire: “Your Committee has to engage with Gibraltar. You have to do more to get us off the list, and as soon as possible, because Gibraltar is our land, it is our home, and only our decisions will decide its future.”
In an address to the UN Committee of 24, the chief minister repeated his request, adding that Gibraltarians would never accept that they were mere bystanders in their own decolonisation.
He said Gibraltarians are the most committed are unbeatable and would not be going away until they were delisted as a Non Self-Governing Territory.
Gibraltar wishes to maintain its good relationship with Spain during the process.
Mr Picardo reiterated while speaking on behalf of the Self Determination for Gibraltar Group that during the Covid crisis, when Gibraltar’s economy was being ravaged like everyone else’s, it provided free vaccines to all legally registered Spanish cross frontier workers and paid full salaries to all of them on furlough.
DON’T MISS: Sophie Wessex gets stuck in with archery and hockey on Gibraltar tour [REVEAL]
Brexit trade rows spill into Europe over EU deal [INSIGHT]
‘Spain banning entry to Gibraltar to press Britain? MP probes Cleverly [ANALYSIS]