Gibraltarian Chief Minister suggests joint sovereignty with Spain

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Celebrations with the flags of Gibraltar and the United Kingdom
Image: Gibnews.

Chief Minister of Gibraltar Peter Caruana has been discussing the possibility of the British overseas territory having joint sovereignty with Spain. He suggested that Gibraltar take an Andorra-style status.

Caruana's suggestion has caused controversy in both Gibraltar and the United Kingdom. Many people in Gibraltar have said they want to remain British and Gibraltarian. The media in Gibraltar has also spoken out against the move using the phrase "Give Spain an inch and they will take a mile!" His decision has come as a surprise; in 2002 Caruana announced a referendum against joint sovereignty. If the plan goes ahead, another referendum would be held.

Andorra received their joint sovereignty in 1993. The move forced the European Union to change its constitution. Andorra has a joint deal with Spain and France.

Some Spanish politicians are worrying that the suggestion will be too heavily looked into during the 2012 Spanish general election. Trinidad Jiménez, Spain's minister for foreign affairs, has asked that it not be a part of their election agenda.

Liberal member Dr Joseph Garcia also commented on the event. He said “The Spanish claim to Gibraltar has always featured to a greater or lesser extent in every general election in Gibraltar and the next ones are not likely to be any different.”

He added that “There is serious concern on the Rock at the number and scale of Spanish incursions into Gibraltar's territorial sea. We had pointed out that the Guardia Civil were becoming increasingly reckless and cavalier in their intrusions into Gibraltar's waters. This was seen at the end of last year when they entered the Port of Gibraltar and actually landed on Gibraltar soil. There was also another extremely serious incursion in September of this year where the Guardia Civil removed a suspect who was about to be arrested by the Royal Gibraltar Police inside our territorial waters. They have shown a complete lack of respect for British sovereignty, jurisdiction and control over Gibraltar's territorial sea and it is imperative that these incursions cease forthwith before the matter escalates even further. Spain must understand that under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Gibraltar is legally entitled to claim territorial waters of its own.”