Gibraltar constitution talks begin in London

Marzo de 2006


Gibraltar’s negotiating delegation led by Chief Minister Peter Caruana left the Rock Tuesday for the talks which are hoped will be the last round of discussions with a final text agreed by the end of the week.

The aim is to agree a new constitution that maximises the self government of Gibraltar while retaining British sovereignty and close links to the UK.

The discussions began Wednesday morning in the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, close to the Foreign Office and are expected to conclude by Friday. Chief Minister Peter Caruana in a recent interview said that he expected the negotiations to be settled by the end of the month.

“There are not that many points outstanding” he said at the time.
One of the main issues pending is the final wording of key parts of the draft text relating to self-determination.

The Gibraltar delegation includes government minister Bernard Linares; Chief Secretary Ernest Montado; Opposition leader Joe Bossano; Liberal Party leader Joseph Garcia; Adolfo Canepa; Keith Azopardi and Daniel Feetham.

The British delegation is led by Dominick Chilcott, director for Mediterranean Europe at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Gibraltar’s constitution dates back to 1969 and this is the third round of talks since 2004. The London talks are being closely watched from Spain by members of Parliament and the press.
Rafael Estrella MP from the ruling Socialist party and a leading figure in the instrumentation of Spanish policy towards Gibraltar said that if Britain accepts a review of the Gibraltar constitution which puts into question the doctrines of the UN and the rights Spain derives from the Treaty or Utrecht, “this would create an unacceptable position for Spain”.

However MP Estrella noted that the constitutional negotiations have been announced as a modernisation on the relationship between Britain and the people of Gibraltar, and advanced that Spain had nothing to say so long as it is unequivocally clear that this does not in any way mean an alteration of Gibraltar’s status quo.

According to MP Estrella the colonial status of Gibraltar is clearly defined by the Resolutions of the UN Security Council and the Treaty of Utrecht is the fundamental basis for defining the status of the territory of Gibraltar.

“Utrecht makes clear that there are only two alternatives: Gibraltar continues to be a British colony or reverts to Spain.” He also stressed that all questions of sovereignty fall only to Spain and Britain to discuss.

Chief Minister has repeatedly stated that it’s “perfectly possible” that the reviewed constitution “has a reference to self determination which does not violate Utrecht rights assigned to Spain”.

Spanish sources indicate that the constitutional draft has two references to self determination for the Gibraltar people: in the preamble where it mentions that a referendum to approve the constitutional reforms is an act of self determination which enables “the maximum possible level of self government”.
The second mention is in Article 1, underlining the protection of citizens’ fundamental rights, including a reference to the UN International Convention of Political and Social Rights which stipulate all peoples have the right to self determination.