Letters from Hon Peter Caruana QC, Chief
Minister, Gibraltar, to Rt Hon Jack Straw MP, Secretary of State,
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(i) 30 January 2002
At my meeting on Friday evening with James Bevan
the discussion turned to the detail of our second requirement
in participate in dialogue, namely, that there should be no agreements
struck over the head of the Gibraltar Government.
It became clear that the intention is that the
UK and Spain will enter into some form of political statement/declaration/understanding
(or whatever) setting out agreed principles or an agreed framework
applicable to the settlement of the Gibraltar issue. These would
include sovereignty concessions to Spain. This statement/declaration/understanding
would not be put to the people of Gibraltar, will be struck before
a referendum and will survive rejection in a referendum of more
detailed proposals based on those agreed principles or framework.
This is a "done deal" of the very worst kind, since
its effects cannot be avoided by Gibraltar even by referendum.
Such a course of action would be a betrayal
of the wishes, rights and interests of the people of Gibraltar.
As I told James Bevan at that meeting, there are no circumstances
in which Gibraltar will take part in dialogue in such circumstances.
We will bitterly oppose such a policy.
I request your written assurance that this course
of action, nor any like it, will be pursued and that you will
agree to facilitate our participation in safe, proper, open agenda
dialogue by agreeing to our proposal for a "two flags, three
voices formula", and also that no such agreements will be
done above the Gibraltar Government's head.
30 January 2002
(ii) 20 February 2002
Thank you for your letter dated 14 February
During my late afternoon meeting with James
Bevan on 25 January we discussed language to deal with the UN
Resolutions/Brussels and separate voice issues. The language is
important to our ability to sign off on those issues. I had expected
to receive a draft text from James Bevan but it has not been forthcoming
In my letter to you dated 30 January 2002 I
asked you for an assurance that the UK and Spain would not enter
into a framework agreement or declaration (or other form of political
understanding) containing in principle sovereignty concessions
to Spain, which predetermines the outcome of the dialogue and
the effect or currency of which would survive (albeit unimplemented
in practice) a referendum rejection of proposals based on such
framework agreement or declaration.
Your letter under reply fails to give that assurance.
Indeed, it has the opposite effect. You say that you will enter
into a joint UK Spanish declaration which will establish a framework
for what you think will be a durable solution. We have previously
been led to understand that it will contain sovereignty elements,
although we do not know the terms, nature or extent of that.
You further confirm, in your letter under reply,
that what you will put to referendum are proposals based on this
declaration/framework/agreement, but that the latter would survive
the referendum as a statement (joint between UK and Spain) of
the "best way forward".
This means that you may make in principle concessions
to Spain on sovereignty (and possibly other issues) the political,
diplomatic and possibly even legal (Quaere its effect on the Treaty
of Utrecht) effect of which will survive a referendum rejection
This would be unacceptable to the Gibraltar
Government and would not represent full respect for the wishes
of the people of Gibraltar, since the UK would be entering into
arrangements (albeit unimplemented), and would be adopting positions
on sovereignty regardless of the wishes of the people of Gibraltar
on that subject.
As you are aware the Gibraltar Government is
committed to actively opposing the pursuit of this intended course
of action which is very damaging to Gibraltar and the political
rights and aspirations of the people of Gibraltar.
You express the hope that I will participate
in "phase two" (post declaration) talks. That will depend
entirely on the content of any pre-referendum declaration/agreement
that you may sign despite our opposition, protestation and best
efforts to prevent it. If it should contain in principle sovereignty
concessions to Spain, the subsequent dialogue will be unacceptably
predetermined and we will not participate in it, for that reason.
I feel obliged to point out that by unnecessarily
predetermining future dialogue on the question of sovereignty
(by making in principle concessions to Spain in a pre-referendum
declaration) you will be very severely prejudicing the prospect
of Gibraltarian participation in any dialogue for many years to
come. That will be very regrettable.
I do not understand why you insist on this unnecessary
course, which can only deliver early and substantial success for
Spain at our expense. You may define success as the emergence
of something that Gibraltar can accept. I suspect and fear that
Spain's definition of success is the Declaration itself, regardless
of the subsequent acceptance or rejection of proposals in a referendum.
Indeed, Spain has already publicly described this scenario as
"an historic milestone" (for her). I describe it as
a "historic millstone" around our necks.
The position that you have adopted, and from
which your letter confirms I have been unable to dissuade you,
make it impossible for me to participate as I would have wished.
However, I repeat our often stated willingness
to take part in the current process of dialogue on the basis of
our well known and longstanding terms, namely, separate voice
(agreed, subject to language) and no agreements over the Gibraltar
Government's head. The latter would require you to abandon the
wholly unnecessary and severely prejudicial chronology of preceding
a referendum with a "done deal" on principles which
include sovereignty concessions and the effect and currency of
which will survive a referendum rejection of proposals based on
You say that the proposals "could not evaporate".
Does this means that not even the proposals will be removed from
the table if rejected in a referendum? That will make a mockery
of the referendum. If that is the case then the position is even
worse that we had hitherto appreciated. You may however mean that
the fact that the proposals had once been put cannot be expunged
(you once used the phrase "cannot be airbrushed away").
That is true and not problematical for us. But what you cannot
make evaporate which is problematic for us is the pre-referendum
declaration of principles. This however misses the point which
is that there is no need for such a declaration in the first place.
I would urge you to abandon this intention.
We propose an open agenda dialogue resulting
in proposals which will not be implemented if rejected in referendum
and which will not be survived by an Anglo-Spanish framework of
principles containing damaging, in principle sovereignty concessions
to Spain for all time.
20 February 2002