The signing of a tripartite agreement between the governments of Spain, Britain and Gibraltar has been hailed as heralding a new era in a sovereignty dispute, which has run since 1704 and has parallels with the one that exists between Britain and Argentina over the Falkland Islands.
The agreement, which was announced in Cordoba, Spain, on Monday afternoon, tackles long-standing issues of communications and border restrictions between Spain and Gibraltar, but leaves to one side the thorny question of sovereignty.
The Daily Telegraph's leader writer on September 19th spoke of the British Government having "cause for congratulation" while giving credit to Peter Caruana, the Gibraltarian Chief Minister, whose referendum in 2002 over a joint Anglo-Spanish sovereignty proposal "routed" the Foreign Office.
According to the same writer, "Mr Caruana forced the British to realise that the Rock was not theirs to give away and the Spanish to accept that, if they wanted to achieve sovereignty, they would have to acknowledge the existence of the Gibraltarians".
Former member of the Falkland Islands Legislature, Mr Robin Pitaluga, whose family's historic connections with Gibraltar are commemorated in the name of his Falkland Islands farm, was moved to wonder if there was a lesson here for the Argentine Government.
Gibraltar-born Stanley resident, Larissa Blake, said that although she did not believe either that the Spanish would ever give up their sovereignty claim or that the Gibraltarians would ever agree to being Spanish, she thought the effects of the agreement would be welcomed by everyone in Gibraltar.
Amongst other benefits, such as cheaper international phone calls and shorter queues at the border with Spain, the new agreement would allow planes to fly directly from Spanish airports into Gibraltar and avoid the present situation where planes taking off from Gibraltar were not allowed to fly through Spanish air space.
At present, if bad weather forces a plane bound for Gibraltar to land at a Spanish airport like Malaga, the passengers have to be transferred to their final destination by bus.
John Fowler (Mercopress) Stanley
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