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11th October 2018, 23:33

Britain delivers strong Right of Reply to Spain's Statement to the UN's 4th Committee

Published by GBC News

The United Kingdom has strongly and unambiguously stood by Gibraltar when exercising its Right of Reply to Spain’s statement at the United Nations. Describing the Rock’s parliamentary democracy as ‘vigorous’, it said that while its position remains that the fundamentals of its constitutional relationship are right, it’s open to proposals put forward by Gibraltar.

Spain too replied at the UN stressing the urgency of negotiating Gibraltar’s legal status post Brexit and adding that the lack of such an agreement could have disastrous economic repercussions for the area and the people on both sides of the frontier. The Spanish Ambassador said Spain was willing to negotiate and reach agreements but also mentioned the so-called veto over EU/UK agreements applying to the Rock.

It‘s easy to get used to a new tone and often repeated phrases but it would be an interesting exercise to compare the UK’s statement now to that, say ten years ago. The message of today, certainly seems to be delivered more clearly and without hedging its diplomatic bets.

The UK tells the Committee that Gibraltar enjoys the rights afforded to it under the UN Charter, including the right to Self Determination. The 2006 Constitution, it reiterates, provides for a modern and mature relationship between Gibraltar and the UK. Its double lock commitment on sovereignty is repeated as well as its Commitments to safeguarding Gibraltar-its people and its economy.

The UK refutes the allegations that it illegally occupied the isthmus and the waters, adding it will continue to uphold sovereignty and use a range of proportionate naval and diplomatic responses to illegal incursions by Spanish State vessels into British Gibraltar Territorial Waters.

It supports the Gibraltar Government’s cooperation with the EU in relation to one particular aspect of its tax regime, saying its confident it will be found to be compliant…. and it states its support too for the Gibraltar Government’s work in combatting tobacco smuggling.

The UK backs a return to the Trilateral forum and says both it and Gibraltar stand ready to engage with Spain to establish new and deeper forms of cooperation to address issues of mutual importance to the region, through dialogue that fully respects the wishes, interests, rights and responsibilities of the people of Gibraltar.