Spain will never drop its sovereignty claim on Gibraltar, a senior Spanish diplomat told the UN Forth Committee yesterday, adding that five decades after the 1967 referendum “there is nothing to celebrate” as far as Madrid id concerned.
Addressing the start oft he session in New York yesterday, Francisca Pedrós, who handles decolonisation issues at Spain’s Permanent Representation to the UN, set out Madrid’s traditional position on Utrecht, territorial integrity and Gibraltar’s waters.
“More than three centuries later, the integrity of Spanish territory continues to be unfortunately impacted by the existence of a colony in our country,” she said.
“Spain has not ceased to request the restitution of this territory and will continue to do so until its decolonisation takes place.”
Sra Pedrós said Spain’s position was endorsed by “international law, United Nations doctrine and the logic of the times”.
The Spanish diplomat told the committee that the UK had at times taken steps that went “in the opposite direction”, citing as an example the 1967 referendum.
“Fifty years have already passed but for the United Nations and international law, there is nothing to celebrate,” she said.
Sra Pedrós also said “the harmful effects of a colony nestled in our country” went beyond the political sphere, citing as an example Spain’s longstanding grievance with Gibraltar’s tax regime, which she said created “serious distortions” in the economy of the Campo.
She said Gibraltar should have used some of its “considerable wealth” to care for the environment, for example by building a sewage treatment plant instead of allowing sewage to “simply pour into the sea”.
“However what worries us the most is the unfair and illegitimate privilege that this regime provides to the economy of the Rock and the illegal trafficking that it gives rise to, in particular the smuggling of tobacco already in the hands of organised crime structures,” the diplomat said.
“This has produced really tense and dangerous situations in the neighbouring municipalities, forcing the Spanish security forces to increase its personnel in the region and putting in danger the safety of the people,” she added, referring too to the death of a La Linea policeman while trying to stop a smuggler last June.
Sra Pedrós insisted that Spain remained open to dialogue, citing both the co-sovereignty proposal tabled last year and also efforts to implement a regional cooperation network that included Spain, the UK, the “local Gibraltar authorities” and regional Spanish authorities – a reference Spain’s version of the so-called ad hoc mechanism.
Sra Pedrós also also mentioned the recent visit by Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis to the Campo de Gibraltar, underlining Madrid’s commitment to Campo citizens.
“They are the most affected by the problems arising from the Gibraltarian question to which I have alluded, and I would like to reaffirm the minister’s message of support and reiterate to them that their rights and interests will be defended by Spain in any negotiation,” she said.
The UK delegation was expected to exercise its right of reply to Spain’s submission.