Spain is scared to test its “feeble claims” in Court, whether in respect of Gibraltar’s undisputable right to self determination or its undisputable waters. That was the charge made by Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo on Friday before the United Nations Committee of 24 as he challenged Madrid to take these issues to the appropriate international courts.
Gibraltar, he made clear, is confident of success. He was equally confident in his assertion that “Gibraltar will never be Spanish”. Spain, he said, should follow Gibraltar into the 21st century and drop its claim.
Mr Picardo joined the United Kingdom in calling on Spain to return to the tripartite ‘table’ which the C24 had previously welcomed. He also condemned recent incidents in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters.
“Every Chief Minister of Gibraltar who has addressed the UN has challenged Spain to take its unsustainable argument about the waters around Gibraltar for an advisory opinion to the International Court of Justice or to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, both of which have jurisdiction to determine such disputes.”
“Instead, Spain prefers to pit its Guardia Civil para-military force against Gibraltar Police officers and the Royal Navy,” said Mr Picardo pointing out that after the nine occasions when ‘UNCLOS’ warnings have been given, Spain should follow international law and not escalate the dispute, but rather turn to the International Court of Justice or the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea to finally settle this matter.
But, referring to a retired Spanish diplomat’s views, those of Jose Antonio de Yturriaga, Mr Picardo said that the Spanish Government knows that its position in respect of British Gibraltar Territorial Waters is wrong and unsustainable in law.
The Chief Minister requested that the C24 should consider whether the 2006 Gibraltar Constitution gives the Rock maximum self-government and, if it falls short of that, to inform Gibraltar what changes are needed to meet the standard of maximum self-government short of independence.
In his speech, his first there as Chief Minister, Mr Picardo reinforced the main principles for Gibraltar which have been restated to the Committee since Joe Bossano started attending in the 1990s when he was Chief Minister, and followed by Peter Caruana. And he recalled that the Gibraltar position had been put to the Committee since the 1960s when Sir Joshua Hassan addressed it.
Self-determination, as opposed to Spain’s assertion of territorial integrity, was the underlying mantra.
“Our decolonisation can progress only on the basis of the exercise by us of our inalienable right to self determination,” said Mr Picardo adding that this cannot be constrained, as Spain argued, because of a sovereignty dispute.
“From the time when you were addressed by the representatives of a fascist regime of General Franco to the modern era of a democratic Spain, very little of substance has changed in the message from Madrid,” Mr Picardo told the C24.
His remark follows Madrid’s diplomat telling the Quito seminar that Spain does not and never will acknowledge any international legal status of the current inhabitants of Gibraltar, much less our right to decide the future of their Gibraltarian land.
In his address Mr Picardo repeated previous invitations to the C24 to formally visit Gibraltar to meet the people and also to hold their seminar on the Rock next time round.