Memorandum from the United Kingdom Representative
of the Government of Gibraltar
1. Thank you for inviting the London Representatives
of the Overseas Territories to make a submission to the Foreign
Affairs Committee on the relationship between the UK and its overseas
territories. I write in respect of my territory, Gibraltar.
2. As you are aware, the Committee is engaged
in a separate ongoing inquiry into the particular circumstances
of Gibraltar and is already aware of the issues we have in some
detail. However, I thought I would take this opportunity to respond
to the particular question of the existing state of the relationship
between the UK and Gibraltar.
3. As the Committee knows Gibraltar is currently
in a situation whereby bilateral talks, which include reference
to her future sovereignty, are taking place between Britain and
Spain. Gibraltar has no separate voice in these discussions. It
is for this reason that the Chief Minister, hon Peter Caruana
QC has taken the decision not to attend.
4. It is fair to say that the result of
Britain's decision to engage in talks with Spain on this basis
has adversely affected the relationship between Gibraltar and
the British Government. The people of Gibraltar are proud to be
British and proud to assist Britain when needed. The latter would
also seem to need Gibraltar to a certain degree as can be seen
by the decision to repair HMS Tireless in Gibraltar and by the
300 British military exercises which have taken place in Gibraltar
over the last two years.
5. While the Government of Gibraltar regrets
that a Treaty which is almost 300 years old appears to take precedence
over the right of a people to self-determination in the eyes of
Britain and Spain, we would point to the fact that even the Treaty
of Utrecht makes it clear that Spain is given the option of sovereignty
over Gibraltar only if Britain cedes it. If Britain does not choose
to take this action then Spain has no basis for its claim. To
satisfy both the Treaty and the requirements of democracy, it
would seem to be logical that any change in sovereignty should
therefore first be determined by the people of Gibraltar, then
considered and accepted by Britain and only at that point should
Spain be even brought into the discussion.
6. In a similar vein Spain would be the
first to object if other countries interfered with her policies
and attitudes towards her enclaves of Cueta and Melila in Morocco.
Both of these are claimed by the Kingdom of Morocco and the Government
there has made it clear that it intends to pursue the claim. Morocco
has some international support for her objectives yet Spain will
not even countenance discussion, much less interference. Surely
she should apply the same logic to her dealings with Gibraltar
and Britain that she applies when considering the future of her
7. By talking to Spain first, without consulting
the British Government has ignored the Treaty and the principles
of democracy and has demonstrated a complete lack of respect for
the wishes of the 30,000 British citizens who live there. It is
this attitude which has so damaged the relationship and there
is no doubt that it will take time and effort to repair.
8. I hope this is helpful. If you have any
queries or would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this
letter in more detail, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
United Kingdom Representative
Government of Gibraltar
2 Note from the Government of Gibraltar, 22 October
2002: Since the date of this memo (December) the basis for
a separate voice (but not the other requirement) was agreed between
HMG and GOG (in January). Back
Note from the Government of Gibraltar: The complaint is
that the British Government has entered into discussion with Spain
without Gibraltar's agreement to the objectives. Back