The time has come for Spain to “finally relinquish its sovereignty claim over Gibraltar” and recognise the democratically expressed wishes of the Gibraltarians, Dr Joseph Garcia, the Deputy Chief Minister, wrote in the highly-regarded US current affairs publication Foreign Policy.
Dr Garcia was exercising a right of reply to an article that had recently argued in favour of joint sovereignty as a means to safeguard Gibraltar’s interests after Brexit.
In a lengthy piece, he sketched out key moments in Gibraltar’s modern history, offering insight into relations between Gibraltar, the UK and Spain, and into the Gibraltarian identity.
“Gibraltarian identity is non-negotiable,” Dr Garcia wrote.
“We are not Spanish. Our homeland is not up for sale.”
“We enjoy a modern constitutional relationship with the U.K, which affords us autonomy in every policy area other than external affairs and defence.”
“We will not compromise on that, and we will never pay with our sovereignty in return for normal coexistence with our neighbours across the border.”
Dr Garcia also explained the government’s strategy in the Brexit process and dismissed the earlier article’s suggestion that the Gibraltar protocol within the Withdrawal Agreement provided for “shared control” of Gibraltar with Spain.
“The protocol addresses local and practical issues of importance to citizens and businesses in Spain and Gibraltar providing for cooperation in support of the shared prosperity and security of the area,” he said.
“Mechanisms have been put in place to foster this cooperation, but those arrangements do not make any concessions to Spain on sovereignty, jurisdiction, or control.”
Dr Garcia said Gibraltar’s right to self-determination was “sacrosanct” and that it was time Spain recognised this.
“Spain must recognise and respect the rights and wishes of the Gibraltarians to freely determine their own destiny,” he said.
“A ‘solution’ inflicted on the Gibraltarians against their will cannot work, and that is why shared sovereignty of Gibraltar is not the answer.”
“For us, the time has come for Spain to finally relinquish its sovereignty claim and recognize the democratically expressed wishes of the Gibraltarians.”
“Gibraltar’s hand of friendship is there to be taken, and the Gibraltarians will extend that hand if Spain is willing to unclench its fist.”
MAIN PHOTO: REUTERS/Jon Nazca