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Brexit

CM urges ‘one last effort of generosity and imagination’ to avoid no-deal ‘abyss’

REUTERS/Jon Nazca

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo on Thursday appealed for “one last effort” of intellectual and political “generosity and imagination” to seal a post-Brexit treaty for Gibraltar, adding that failure to reach agreement could open “an abyss” on a par with the border closure in 1969.

Mr Picardo sent the message in a statement issued to a seminar on Brexit organised by the University of Cadiz in Algeciras this week.

Mr Picardo had been invited to speak at the seminar but declined the invitation given the delicate stage of negotiations for a UK/EU treaty on the Rock’s future relations with the bloc.

“I trust that in these last rounds, we will be at the historic level required to reach agreement and I ask all parties for one last effort of intellectual and political generosity for the good of everyone,” he said in the message.

“I ask for one last effort of imagination to take this pernicious history to a positive ending.”

“I also ask for one final effort from all our partners at the negotiating table.”

“We are at the point of something very great, very positive and historically important, or at the doors of an abyss almost as negative as that of the year 1969.”

“My optimism always pushes me towards the positive, provided it is not politically impossible for us.”

“I am convinced we will reach our goal and, as always, I will be available to the University of Cadiz to explain details of the agreement reached.”

The Chief Minister said that given the complexity of the issue being negotiated, it was “not convenient” for any of the parties in the talks to make statement beyond what had already been said and published.

But he stressed the last details were being discussed “with the maximum discretion” in the interests of communities on both sides of the border.

“I am confident that with the goodwill that we are seeing from all negotiating parties we will soon arrive at an agreement to create common benefits in line with what the respective populations of this beautiful part of the world deserve,” he added.

Earlier this week in Brussels, Jose Manuel Albares, Spain’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, also signalled optimism about the negotiations.

He had discussed the Gibraltar talks with his UK counterpart Liz Truss and underscored that, despite the tension between the UK and the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol, this was “a distinct and separate” negotiation.

“And we both agreed that we are making progress, that we are close to an agreement and that there are grounds on which to start drafting [the text of the treay].”

“Certainly, it won’t be because of Spain that we won’t have an agreement to create an area of shared prosperity in Gibraltar.”

The negotiations were also raised during a public event in Algeciras this week to mark the 178th anniversary of the formation of the Guardia Civil.

During the event, the Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affair’s representative in the Campo de Gibraltar, Juan Jose Sanz Aparicio, was awarded the Cross of the Order of Merit by the Guardia Civil for his work.

Francisco Almansa, the Guardia Civil colonel who heads the Algeciras headquarters, described him as “a magnificent diplomat”.

“We all hope that such good work will bear fruit as soon as possible that we can all truly benefit, on both sides of the border, from a genuine area of shared prosperity,” he said.

“I dare say that at this moment, the most urgent [work] is the negotiation between the European Union and the United Kingdom in relation to the agreement on Gibraltar.”

“No negotiation is easy, but to bring it to a good conclusion one needs technical knowledge of the issues and the different red and green lines along which the negotiation must unfold.”

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