Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Incursions by Guardia Civil and Fishing Issue being stirred up again!


This morning 22/04/13 the Royal Navy's Gib Squadron have again had their patrol boat going up and down the Bay patrolling the boundaries of BGTW but at 11am they returned to base. No sooner had they done this, the Guardia Civil who clearly had been observing them, deployed a RHIB and motored slowly past our moles displaying a large flag.


Spanish fishing dangerously close to Gib port - 22/04/13

by PANORAMA reporter

During the last week illegal fishing by Spanish fishing boats has intensified as our picture illustrates; ironically there was no one in sight to take any action or inform the Spanish perpetrator to leave the area.

As summer approaches leisure activity in the bay, beaches and local coast line will substantially increase, ‘are we in for another exciting summer of Spanish fishing boats breaking our laws, Guardia Civil making daily incursions, Diving Schools taking over our beaches and Spaniards fishing from all corners of our coast, and yet little in the way of actually attempting to do something serious about it,’ said concerned person.

Where is the long awaited ‘Fishing Report’ that every so often for the last 6 months we have been told will imminently be made public?

Is it the waters around Gibraltar we are talking about or the Pacific Ocean!



From today's Panorama 22/04/13

UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum has recommended that the British Government supports Gibraltar in enforcing fisheries protection legislation, resisting the Government of Spain's sup- port for illegal activities, and instructs the Royal Navy to support the Gibraltar Government in the consequent de-fence of territorial waters and their resources.

The Environmental Audit Committee in the British Parliament, currently considering such matters, is being told in clear terms that the UK gov-ernment is failing to support Gibraltar.

There is a need for enforcement of Gibraltar's laws, but UK officials are even using underhand tactics, urging that the Spanish be allowed to fish in British Gibraltar waters, even though the Spanish themselves would be unlikely to allow such fishing if the waters of Gibraltar were Spanish.

It explains why the delays in the publication of the fishing report from the advisory committee chaired by Dr Chris

Tydeman who is also chairman of the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum.

The British Parliament has been told that Gibraltar's territorial waters (BGTW) are regularly fished by Spanish vessels despite this being illegal under that law.

The 2012 White Paper sets out quite clearly what Britain's responsibilities are in this situation:

* "Defence and Security: the UK is committed to defend the Territories.

* "International Support: the UK is responsible for the external relations of the Territories and uses its diplomatic resources and influence to promote their interests.

* "We will continue to maintain an independent ability to defend the Territories - including their territorial waters and airspace - from any external security threats they may face."

* The Royal Navy is tasked with... upholding the sovereignty of British Gibraltar Territorial Waters."

* Conclusion ... We are defending robustly Territories which face external threats." But the Forum notes that despite these definitive statements of responsibility, little action has been forthcoming from HMG.

The Forum has told parliament in a report: "The Government of Gibraltar is seeking to manage its natural resources sustainably, but is being thwarted by the illegal fish- i ing activities of Spanish boats. (In fact, if the waters were Spanish, it is likely that it would be illegal to fish there under Spanish law.) It would normally be assumed that the role of Governor and of the FCO would be to ensure the best interests of Gibraltar and its citizens - which in this case would be to put in place measures to stop this illegal activity. However, the exact opposite appears to be the case, with the UK government putting enormous pressure on the Gibraltar Government to allow this illegal fishing. The role of the Governor seems to have switched from looking after Gibraltar's interests to that of not upsetting the Government of Spain."

It goes on to recommend that "HMG supports HM Government of Gibraltar in enforcing fisheries protection legislation, resists the Government of Spain's support for illegal activities, and instructs the Royal Navy to support HMGOG in the consequent defence of territorial waters and their resources."

Dr Chris Tydeman, who for nearly a year has led the Gibraltar team looking into the fishing issue in BGTW and is also part-author of the forthcoming fishing report, appeared a few days ago before a cross-party House of Commons Select Committee to give evidence on a range of issues which also included part of his work carried out in Gibraltar.



by Leo Olivero

From a Gibraltar perspective the news that the UK Government have practically told the Foreign Office to stay at home, do nothing and not get involved in negotiations regarding the UK‘s future in the european union is to say the least disconcerting for the people of Gibraltar particularly, when you consider that it is the Foreign Office’who we largely depend to deal with as regards our own future as a nation.

Foreign Office Snubbed by UK Government!

Instead Prime Minister David Cameron has by-passed the FCO and cleared the way for teams of UK Ministers to travel and talk directly with EU member states and others, as part of the UK Government’s negotiation process over Britain’s EU future.

This news is worrying and not only poses questions but places great doubt on the effectiveness of the Foreign Office. If Mr Cameron appears to have little faith in his diplomatic core at the FCO and in them presenting a robust and effective case for the UK’s future in Europe - then what hope for Gibraltar’s Future?

When you think the Rock is under constant political siege from Spain, a situation that makes Gibraltar largely dependent on the Foreign Office to vigorously defend Gibraltar’s cause. The fact that the UK is rebuffing its own Foreign Office does not come as a source of great encouragement.

However, the aloof type efforts by FCO during many months regarding the Spanish incursions into BGTW, could explain the UK Government’s thinking in telling their diplomatic mandarins at the FCO to sit-out on any talks regarding UK’s EU future ;instead, despatching their own heavy political artillery to engineer some robust action.

But in an extraordinary move the UK Prime Minister David Cameron has taken the political decision to sidestep, or better still ignore the Foreign Office and send Conservative MPs to a number of EU states including Spain, Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic, this to push the UK Government’s plan to renegotiate the UK’s future with the European Union.

Reports from the UK suggest that Mr Cameron is frustrated about the lack of movement by the Foreign Office in pushing his plans ahead of a promised in-out referendum if the Conservatives win the next election.

An Extraordinary Two-Track Diplomatic Arrangement!

However from another angle, political and diplomatic experts have already called the arrangement ‘extraordinary’ . I’ve never heard of anything like this before says Richard Whitman, professor of politics and international relations at University of Kent and an associate fellow at the Chatham House foreign-policy research group, said in an interview. “It’s almost like a two-track diplomatic process. The government has got plausible deniability.”

However, too many UK officials have not been able to become involved in the Conservative plan as it is opposed by the Lib Dem coalition who are split on this decision, this barring the Foreign Office by certain rules from conducting negotiations on behalf of the Conservatives alone. Some diplomats oppose the premier’s stance. Cleverly Mr Cameron to get around the latter problem is using the anti-EU group, ‘the Fresh Start Project’ (FSP), to contact and meet ambassadors, journalists and their counterparts in other countries to make the case for the UK’s EU change.

The FSP is made up of Conservative eurosceptic MPs who earlier in the year unveiled a manifesto of proposed reforms to the UK’s relationship with the EU as part of an attempt to return powers from Brussels.

In fact the FSP Manifesto set out a new relationship for Britain within the EU which the FSP wants the Government to achieve; The Manifesto is divided into a series of chapters addressing each of the key policy areas individually – each chapter advocates the approach the FSP believes Government should adopt when negotiating this new EU relationship which obviously does not include Britain’s diplomatic service!

Hague and Lidington Back FCO Drop-Out

One Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom and FSP member put it more clearer or less subtle saying ‘The Foreign Office are, bluntly, unambitious. I’ve had some extraordinarily frustrating conversations with officials there; they (the FCO) say things like: “you can only negotiate one or at the most two things at a time; we’re being warmly encouraged to go on with our quest.

Ms Leadsom is due to visit Berlin in a few weeks’ time, other teams of MPs are also going to Spain, Poland and the Czech Republic later this year. The FSP has no official mandate from government; she said ‘it is clear to those they meet that ‘we are here with Cameron’s blessing’.

Embarrassing For FCO

Some UK political observers have commented that the elected Government has woken up to the fact that,’ left in the hands of departments of Government like the Foreign Office, who are mostly non-elected individuals, there would never be a solution’.

Although if one digs deeper into the FCO Role in today’s politics there should be little surprise in Mr Cameron’s decision to side-step his diplomats in favour of direct politic intervention!

Foreign Affairs Committee Report Describe FCO Relaxed

Only a couple of years ago a House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Report on the Role of the FCO said “The FCO has proved relatively relaxed about the encroachment of the Cabinet Ofûce and other departments on its traditional diplomatic territory. This is for two reasons. Firstly, the sheer volume and complexity of EU business today limits the capacity of any single department to steer substantive policy. Second, the FCO lacks the authority and legitimacy within Whitehall to guide policy, intervene in negotiations and/or arbitrate in disputes”

The Foreign Offices have a history of being relaxed on many things, and still has by the looks of things. Even In 1982, when the military dictatorship in Argentina were making all kinds of threats it was totally misread by the British Foreign Offices apathetic responses to these threats to invade and occupy the Falkland Islands. This unprovoked act of aggression caught Margret Thatcher unprepared, although she finally launched a successful counterattack by a combined British task forces 8,000 miles away.

Yet historically as far as the Conservative Party is concerned there doesn’t appear to be much love lost with the FCO. Again the late Margret Thatcher never liked or trusted the FCO, and even tried to set up one of her own.

The detailed investigations contained in the Scott Report did little to improve FCO’s reputation - except for duplicity, opacity, and being economical with the truth.

[The Scott Report was a judicial inquiry commissioned in 1992 after reports of arms sales in the 1980s to Iraq by British companies surfaced. The report was conducted by Sir Richard Scott, then a Lord Justice of Appeal. It was published in 1996. Much of the report was secret]

For a long time it has become natural for politicians to turn to the advice and alleged expertise of people at the FCO who still perceive themselves as heirs to an imperial and mandarin tradition. At times, some people believe this compounds the problem. Although by the looks of things this is all set to change, this if the latest decision by Mr Cameron to side-step the FCO on such an important national issue is anything to go by.

UK Ministers call their own Diplomatic Service ‘Unambitious’ this really sends out worrying messages. If the role of the FCO is on the decline when it comes to ‘UK national issues’ then what is Gibraltar’s position fighting for our identity cannot get any more important, but unlike what UK ministers say, we on the ROCK it seems have to put up with the ‘Unambitious’ actions of the Foreign Office in what is really becoming a two-tier diplomatic service.

Once again we have the Spanish Guardia Civil - the spanish para military personnel playing games to antagonise the people and the authority in Gibraltar!

This continuous and blatant  disregard to our law should not be allowed! Gibraltar has shown a lot of patience and accepted diplomacy by UK Government but the time has come to stand up for Gibraltar.

We need the UK Government to stand up and do their job - which is clear for everyone!


We ask no more and no less but to do your duty!


Anne-Marie Struggles

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