Wednesday, 20th June 2012
The drama of Cristina Kirchner’s appearance at the UN last week with her entourage of 96 had the curious effect of raising the profile of the Committee of 24 in a way it has not been in decades.
Inert as the Committee is, it was clear that even the Chairman, from Ecuador which signed up in favour of the Argentine president, was awe struck by Mrs Kirchner. Notably too, maybe, but only maybe, because the Falklands issue took a huge chunk of the scheduled time, none of the territories were invited to comment on the Gibraltar Chief Minister’s speech. Nor it must be said, were the territories showing much energy to do so. The South American block is clearly a powerful political and economic creature with which smaller states, such as the Caribbean, might not to want to tangle.
Whilst Spain did not join in the chorus of Kirchner supporters – but then again it has its own axe to grind with her – it is reasonable to say that mood was not a happy one.
Spain’s contribution, though technically consistent, reflected very much its eagerness to return to pre-trilateral politics and the ambassador’s tone reflected the nostalgia for that approach with the diplomats at the Palacio de Santa Cruz. Perhaps the most significant remark came at the end of his address where there was a barely covert warning to the C24 not to delist Gibraltar in some unilateral decision. Perhaps we have made more headway than we think?
Each party got their message across well, not least the Chief Minister, but there seems very little space for manoeuvre left if there is to be a post-tripartite, but also post Brussels, process of local co-operation and talks that is acceptable to Gibraltar and which allows for good relations to be fostered.
Mrs Kirchner’s presentation and condominium card will have played well to many countries that resent UK’s colonial past. They will see her as being pragmatic in pointing to exploitation of minerals reserves and yet seeking a joint sovereignty deal instead of making a full claim over the Falklands. Not only will that have gone down badly in the Falkland’s but Spain itself having, we know from Mr Hain, rejected an offer of joint sovereignty over Gibraltar under the last PP government is not making less ‘reasonable’ demands than the Argentine president.
It’s time to start working together again – Gibraltar, UK and Spain.