Letter from Hon Peter Caruana QC, Chief
Minister, Gibraltar, to Rt Hon Jack Straw MP, Secretary of State,
Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 26 October 2001
Thank you for your letter dated 23 October 2001.
In the paper that I sent to John MacGregor on
16 October, I asked that a letter from you should not issue until
it was clear that its contents would "do the trick".
I said this in order to avoid the well documentated pitfalls of
such a course of action in two previous unsuccessful attempts
to secure our participation. I therefore very much regret that
my advice should not have been heeded in this procedural respect.
There is absolutely no prospect of our participation
in talks on the basis of your letter, which I am bound to say,
offers terms that are considerably less attractive than those
proposed by the previous Tory Government and later by Robin Cook,
and which we rejected.
Your letter fails to take account of all the
correspondence between HMG and GOG since 1996 and also my public
statements. I can understand that you should not be personally
aware of all of thisbut I know that your officials are
aware. The terms of your letter have therefore come as a great
disappointment to us.
Your letter delivers neither of our fundamental
requirements, ie separate voice and the assurance of no agreement
on any issue affecting Gibraltar without our agreement.
Having our own voice is not just a question
of a passing reference to those words in a letter. It requires
the resulting process to be demonstrably structured and conducted
in a manner that reflects it. Your letter does not achieve this.
No attempt whatsoever is made to deliver the second point (no
agreements without our agreement).
Indeed much of what your letter does say is
unacceptable to us as the basis for any process of dialogue in
which we would wish to take part. Details of these aspects will
be fed through separately to officials.
You may not be aware that your letter does no
more than describe the Brussels Process in 1985 when Gibraltar
last participated in it. I had thought it inconceivable that anyone
in the FCO would have thought that there was any prospect whatsoever
of securing our participation on that basis. I can only assume
that you have not been fully briefed on the recent history of
There is no prospect of procuring our participation
except through a detailed, specific and overt accommodation of
our very well known and publicised needs. These are reflected
in the paper and suggested draft letter that we sent on 16 October.
If stylistic issues arise from these drafts they can, of course,
It has been suggested to me that it is not appropriate
for me to purport to dictate the terms of your letters. I do of
course readily accept that. By the same token, I am sure that
you will understand that I cannot allow that to be used to water
down the substance of our needs. Since that view has been expressed
to me, and I would not wish to appear impertinent, I suggest that
we proceed by way of Memorandum of Understanding and not a letter
from you. My papers of 16 October can form the basis of such an
Of course, it may be that you are unwilling
(for reasons of your own) or unable (for reasons of Spain's position)
to accommodate our needs in substance or in the manner that we
seek. If that is the case I would ask that that be plainly said.
We should not deal with differences of substance as if they were
mere drafting points.
My Government has considered the terms of your
letter in a meeting of all Ministers. The unanimous view is that
it reveals a cavernous difference between the process described
in your letter and the process in which we would be willing to
participate. I would like you to know that I have had to persuade
my colleagues even of the fact that there is indeed a real desire
in London to bring about our participation.
I do not know if you will be willing to meet
our needs as we have articulated them. I had already alerted your
officials to the fact that even if we obtain our terms, we shall
need time to explain the position and our decision to participate
to public opinion. We would need a full 14 days for this purpose,
starting from the day on which we had agreed terms.
26 October 2001