CM to reflect on a year of political upheaval in UN address
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo will address the United Nation’s Committee of 24 in New York today, updating its members on the turbulent political aftermath of the Brexit vote last June 23.
Mr Picardo will explain the actions taken by his government in preparing to withdraw from the EU, reaffirming Gibraltar’s traditional position on self-determination and making clear the Rock’s rejection of Spain’s joint sovereignty proposal.
But whereas in the past the Chief Minister has adopted a stern, even feisty approach when addressing the committee, Mr Picardo has hinted he may take a different approach during today’s intervention.
This will be the first time that he speaks at the UN since the departure of José Manuel García-Margallo from Spain’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs last November.
Sr García-Margallo’s successor, the career diplomat Alfonso Dastis, has adopted a far more restrained and moderate approach in his comments on Gibraltar.
The Spanish position remains unchanged in substance, but gone is the aggressive rhetoric that defined Sr García-Margallo’s time in office.
Speaking to the Chronicle ahead of the meeting, Mr Picardo signalled he will reflect that change of tone in his intervention in New York.
The Chief Minister said his review of the year for the C24 would include analysis of the “consequences and opportunities as a result” of the Brexit vote.
“I also have to ensure that the Committee of 24 understand our position in respect of the repeated insistence upon the joint sovereignty offer, but with the nuance that Spain has made clear in the seminar that, with Mr Dastis at the helm, it is not going to be seen to impose that on Gibraltar,” he said.
“Gibraltar has put up a fight at the UN when it has been presented with an aggressive and belligerent position by Spain.”
“But we don’t intend, ever, to go to international fora to slap our neighbour in the face. We go to international fora to make our case.”
“And if we don’t have to defend ourselves against belligerence, then belligerence is not required from us.”
The core of his message, however, will change little from previous years and will underscore Gibraltar’s traditional position at the UN.
“You can expect that I’ll be just as vehemently defending the position of the people of Gibraltar in respect our right of self-determination and the committee’s inaction in that respect,” Mr Picardo said.
Mr Picardo is in New York accompanied by Dr Joseph Garcia, the deputy Chief Minister.
They will take advantage of their time in New York in order to hold a number of meetings on political and commercial issues, before returning tomorrow.
The last time Mr Picardo was at the UN was in October 2017, when he addressed the UN’s Fourth Committee.
During that session, Spain’s permanent representative to the UN, Román Oyarzun Marchesi, formally presented a joint sovereignty proposal, describing it as a “solution” to Gibraltar’s woes.
In reply, Mr Picardo swiftly rejected the proposal, describing it as “a blatant attempt to use the decolonisation process of the United Nations to turn Gibraltar into a new Spanish colony by redrawing the map of modern Europe in front of your eyes, and using Brexit as the lubricant for it to happen.”
“This is not conducive to positive and constructive neighbourly relations…Even in the face of lucrative offers to sell our homeland, we will never barter with our nation’s sovereignty,” he said at the time.
The UK Government has also repeatedly maintained firm on its double-lock commitment to the people of Gibraltar that it will neither change nor discuss sovereignty against the wishes of the Gibraltarians.