Intense and at times fiercely debated discussions led to Spain’s governing party the PSOE convincing the PP opposition and other parties to join in a consensus motion on Spain’s approach to the Gibraltar question, it emerged this week according to the Gibraltar Chronicle.
Although there are no expectations or plans at present for Britain and Spain to engage in bilateral talks on sovereignty, the consensus resolution passed in the Madrid parliament had the Congreso de Diputados urge the Spanish Government to “along with Britain, renew and give impulse to negotiations on the questions (plural) of Gibraltar sovereignty in line with the relevant Resolutions and Decisions of the United Nations”.
The agreement extracted from the PP essentially removed criticism of the Madrid Government from their wording and avoided an unprecedented breach of the tradition of having a consensus position on foreign affairs including Gibraltar.
The motion as published and signed up to by parties including the CIU, PNV, ERC-IU-ICV also called on the Spanish Government to press on with the process of co-operation for the benefit of the Campo and Gibraltar populations and to “consolidate the mechanisms for dialogue on Gibraltar without prejudice to the respective positions on sovereignty and jurisdiction”.
It also said that Spain should continue to negotiate with UK the presentation each year of a consensus decision before the United Nations General Assembly that urges both sides to continue the negotiations aimed at a definitive solution to the Gibraltar dispute “in which the legitimate interests of the Gibraltar population are taken into account.”
The Spanish Government was also urged to maintain its traditional firm position with respect to the issue of Gibraltar’s representation at international organisations where this is independent or autonomous of the UK.
Finally the Madrid Government was urged by the Spanish MPs of the Foreign Affairs Commission to intensify efforts to reinforce co-operation on vigilance and control of maritime security, pollution and bunkering without prejudice to the respective positions on sovereignty and jurisdiction.
In related news Spain’s Instituto Cervantes in Gibraltar (equivalent of the British Council) said it will help train local Spanish teachers, according to Carmen Caffarel, director of the Spanish institution.
“It’s good that we can help to train teachers, so that those teachers can then train kids to enable them to become competent Spanish speakers,” she told Canal Sur Television this week.
She added: “Gibraltar is perhaps, in some ways, losing that freshness that it could have over their command of Spanish.”
Sra Caffarel avoided talking about any political issues and said that she was convinced the Gibraltar office of the Instituto Cervantes would prove very successful.