Monday, 4 March 2013
A Call for Calmer Waters - Part 1
A CALL FOR CALMER WATERS – PART 1 – GIBRALTAR GOVERNMENT
As all we all know, Gibraltar has in the last year been the centre of unwanted and unwarranted attention from the Spanish Government. This is a direct result of the machinations of the Governing Partido Popular whose position could not be any clearer than Margallo’s description of the status of Gibraltar as a “joke” (in addition to his jocular remark of “Gibraltar is Spanish” directed to a British MEP).
To those who lay the blame for the current territorial dispute at the feet of the Gibraltar Government, it is time for some serious reflection. Is the dispute about Territorial waters the only thing Spain has rigorously pursued or wielded in just over a year in power? If you answer the last question with a tentative yes, I feel I must also ask the following:
Have you forgotten the repressive tactics employed at the Frontier? Do 6 hour queues in the searing summer heat ring a bell?
Have you forgotten Spains constant defamation of Gibraltars economy when it calls us a “Fiscal Paradise” or “Tax Haven” where money is laundered? Even though a Tax Information and Exchange Agreement (TIEA) has been offered to them and we are on the OECD white list along with the UK and Spain?
Have you forgotten the numerous illegal Spanish paramilitary, customs and military incursions? Surely they could have been put to better use tackling real issues, like the very real drug smuggling in Algeciras and organized crime all along the southern coast of Spain.
Have you forgotten Spains insistence to scrupulously tackle anything that can be mildly interpreted as contributing to our national pride? The removal of the Gibraltar flag at sporting events in Spain? The mountain given to the GFA to climb in order to become a member of UEFA? The rigorous complaints by Spain to the UK due to the singular display of our flag at a TIEA signing with Greece and India?
Have you forgotten Rajoy’s smoke and mirrors at the UN where he called for a return to bilateral talks on the sovereignty of Gibraltar stating that too much time had been lost? Do you not think Rajoy had a more blindingly obvious thing to talk about, like the abysmal economic situation Spain finds itself in?
Have you forgotten the accusations levied at Gibraltar of being a hot bed for drug trafficking and organized crime?
Have you forgotten the hypocrisy of Spain calling us to task on our wish to reclaim land from the sea when Spain has reclaimed no less than 10% of the Bay of Gibraltar?
have you forgotten who tore up the trilateral process? The only forum where issues like the current dispute could have been tackled faster?
Let us not distract from who the real adversary is. For those who may need a reminder, it is a Right-wing government who has nothing better to do than bully a nation of 30,000 people in anyway it can, deliberately muddying the waters as part of its strategy to divide and conquer. It is a nation that is taking advantage of the resurgent sabre rattling over the Falkland Islands to push forward its aims over Gibraltar at worst, or to have provided a perfect distraction for the most impoverished region of Spain (Andalucia) at best.
THE FISHING REPORT
As you well know, at present there appears to be a widespread feeling of anger and confusion by Gibraltarians in relation to the current situation in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters. The as yet unpublished fishing report appears to be a magnet for such criticism, interpreted by some as an uncomfortable silence and portent of negative things to come. But is silence or the delay of releasing a report the harbinger of doom to come? In my opinion it is not, as long as it is part of a wider ranging cohesive strategy, which balances diplomacy with the need to assert our respective position as a nation; a strategy that encompasses the ability to undermine Spain’s incoherent position and to hold the UK to task on its obligations to our homeland. To boldly state that there has been no evidence of this is a distortion of reality.
The truth is that this Government is trying its utmost best to weather the Spanish storm, build a healthy and strategic relationship with the UK, improve our homeland and not negotiate for what is ours by right. It is very rare for me to say this, but give the guys (and girls) a break. To continue piling on the pressure from a local perspective, when tackling a greater foe, is extremely demoralizing and not what is needed. Particularly when you think of the possibly negative implications of releasing the fishing report at the wrong time. Pointed silence in a conflict is strategy, not incompetence.
The fishing report has probably not been released for a very good reason – whoever thinks that its going to be a favourable report on the health of our bay could possibly be in for a wake up call; professional environmentalists have written it. Have you ever seen an environmentalist state that overfishing or raking should be condoned or codified in law?
So with all this in mind, let us together remove the fish scales from our eyes and recognize exactly what this is – a full-blown sovereignty dispute over the authority of BGTW. This is something that must be dealt with by the UK in partnership with the Government of Gibraltar – indeed that is the way in which it has been tackled by this Government since the conflict began, if mostly behind closed doors (the whispers within the corridors of power become like roars for those who watch for the signs). We would not have it any other way.
Last, but not least, if there is any dirty laundry over the current situation which needs airing, lets at least do it when the party is over and our esteemed guests from Madrid have bidden farewell until the next ‘celebration’. Given history, we should always be prepared for such an eventuality. Sometimes I wonder if there would be any merit in opening a Government office dedicated at looking at the myriad of things Spain throws in our path; the Governor has always fulfilled that role, but we cannot always rely upon Governors with the attitudes of Sir William Jackson and Sir Adrian James Johns…least of all for a UK Government who is unwilling to sacrifice Gibraltar on the altar for good relations with Spain.
Tune in next week for A CALL FOR CALMER WATERS – PART 2 – WHAT EXACTLY SHOULD THE RGP BE DOING?
By Gareth Gingell
Chairman and Spokesperson for the Defenders of Gibraltar