Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex 12

Letter from Hon Peter Caruana QC, Chief Minister, Gibraltar, to Rt Hon Tony Blair MP, Prime Minister, 7 May 2002

  I write to you in relation to the current discussions between HMG and the Government of Spain concerning Gibraltar.

  We know, and appreciate that no agreement will be implemented in practice if rejected by the people of Gibraltar in referendum. The Foreign Office are well aware that the result of any such referendum is a foregone conclusion.

  However, by conceding the principle of shared sovereignty to Spain, HMG will be legitimising her anachronistic claim for all time in the eyes of the international community. HMG will also be effectively denying the existence of the Gibraltarian's right to self-determination (even as UK policy defines that right), since such bilateral Anglo/Spanish agreements of the principles affecting Gibraltarian's future rights and options are wholly inconsistent with our right to self-determination.

  I do not know if you are aware that the intention is that any agreement between UK and Spain as to the principles applicable will remain "on the table" as the agreed position, even if rejected by Gibraltar in referendum (and thus not implemented in practice). Gibraltar considers that this will constitute a "done deal". We are told that the main elements of these agreed principles will be non-negotiable in future rounds of discussions. You may be aware that these are the reasons why I am not participating in the talks.

  We do not think that HMG can validly dissect respect for our wishes into two separate facets: the practical (ie implementation) in respect of which our wishes will be respected, and the principles applicable to our rights and our future, in respect of which our wishes, it appears, will not be respected.

  According to press reports you are scheduled to met Sr Aznar in London on 20 May 2002. I would be grateful for the opportunity to meet with you before that date if possible, otherwise, before HMG commits itself to any Anglo/Spanish Agreement despite Gibraltar's protest and opposition thereto.

  It would be my hope to persuade you of the dangers for all parties of proceeding as proposed, and also of an alternative, more constructive, way forward. The latter would avoid the concessions of principles that your Government appears to intend to make to Spain, to Gibraltar's political prejudice.

  Recent Spanish public threats, at the highest political levels, that if Gibraltar rejects the agreement, Spain will continue with its campaign of harassment, are unacceptable to the people of Gibraltar. I presume that Sr Pique's public threat to the UK that if the UK does not enter into an agreement, Anglo/Spanish relations would be "seriously damaged", are equally unacceptable to HMG.

  I am at your entire disposal as to date and time. I am aware that there are many calls upon your time. However, I hope that the gravity of this matter for Gibraltar will make it possible for us to meet.

Peter Caruana

Chief Minister

7 May 2002

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