Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex 1 (l)

Letter from Hon Peter Caruana QC, Chief Minister, Gibraltar, to Rt Hon Tony Blair MP, Prime Minister, 8 November 2001

  As you will be meeting Sr Aznar tomorrow I thought that it would be appropriate that you should know why it has not been made possible for me to be present, as I would have liked, at the forthcoming talks under the Brussels Process in Barcelona on 20 November.

  Participation in that Process is extremely controversial in local political terms. The Brussels Process is viewed with deep suspicion in Gibraltar. Despite that I have for many years now defended the view that it is safe to participate in it, but subject to certain terms which I have repeatedly stated and upon which I have given many public commitments.

  These terms are that the Gibraltar Government should have its own separate voice at talks. The reason for this is that, if we accept to participate in dialogue which is structured as bilateral between the UK and Spain, we are conceding Spain's contention that we do not enjoy the right to self determination. It is not reasonable to expect us to do that, just as Spain is not expected to concede her sovereignty claim.

  The other term is that the UK should assure me that nothing will emerge from or be agreed at talks unless all of HMG, the Spanish and the Gibraltar Governments agree. The alternative, which is not reasonable, is that we are expected to participate in a process of dialogue, that we legitimise by our presence, but in which others arrive at agreements above our heads. I cannot think of any sensible politician (with an electorate) who would place himself in such a position.

  Despite repeated and sustained effort on our part to procure these terms, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has failed to accommodate them.

  If it were possible to accommodate our terms we would hope to participate in future rounds of talks.

Peter Caruana

Chief Minister

8 November 2001

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