Monday, 3 April 2017

Gibraltar, Treaty of Utrecht & political rhetoric

by Brian Bamford
THE International New York Times today carried a report by Stephen Castle declaring that to the 'formidable list of problems facing Prime Minister Theresa May ... as she negotiates the nation's risky withdrawal from the European Union, add one more:  the future of the rocky out-crop of Gibraltar.'
After the Treaty of Utrecht, which established the Peace of Utrecht, the Spanish Crown ceded the territory of Gibraltar in perpetuity to the British Crown in 1713, under Article X of the Treaty, although there were later attempts to recapture the territory.
On May 18th 1966, the Fernando Castiella the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs in the regime of General Franco, made a formal proposal to the British Government requesting the cancellation of the Treaty of Utrecht and the subsequent return of Gibraltar to Spain. 
In response the UK Government held Gibraltar's first sovereignty referendum on September 10th, 1967; the result was: 
For British sovereignty12,138 votes:  representing
99.64% of the votes cast.

In favour of  Spanish sovereignty44 votes: representing0.36% of the votes cast.

As a consequence of this referendum a new constitution for Gibraltar was passed in 1969.  Which has been adopted as Gibraltar's National Day, and has been celebrated annually on September 10th since 1992 to commemorate Gibraltar's first sovereignty referendum of 1967.
In 1969, the General Franco's regime closed the border between Spain and Gibraltar, cutting off all contacts and severely restricting movement.  The border was not fully reopened until February 1985, ten years after Franco's death.
The Gibraltar Chronicle today reported on what Spain’s Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis is saying:
“The Spanish government is a little surprised by the tone of comments coming out of Britain, a country known for its composure,” Sr Dastis said.
“I think some people in the UK are losing their temper but there’s no need for that.”
Meanwhile, speaking to Reuters this morning, Gibraltar's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo was critical of European Council president Donald Tusk for allowing Gibraltar’s inclusion in the EU draft guidelines.
“Mr Tusk, who has been given to using the analogies of the divorce and divorce petition, is behaving like a cuckolded husband who is taking it out on the children,” Mr Picardo said.
“We are not going to be a chip and we are not going to be a victim of Brexit as we are not the culprits of Brexit: we voted to stay in the European Union so taking it out on us is to allow Spain to behave in the manner of the bully.”

At the same time reports from London in the Spanish daily newspaper El Pais, cover the utterances of the former Tory leader Michael Howard suggesting that Theresa May would be willing to go to war to protect the rights of Gibraltarians.

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