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Garcia and Azopardi reflect on Gib’s challenges during GibTalks

Gib Talks 2019. 020219 (Photo John Bugeja)

‘Brexit will not be easy but we will get there in the end’, Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Garcia said during a speech at the fifth annual GibTalks event.

The event saw local speakers share their stories at the John Mackintosh Hall last Saturday.

Dr Garcia spoke about Brexit, euro-scepticism in Britain before the European Union even existed and “digital diplomacy” on WhatsApp.

“These are the cards that have been dealt to us and we all know what Brexit could mean for Gibraltar in the future,” Dr Garcia said.

“We all know the intensity of the ongoing work to ensure the smoothest possible Gibexit.”

He added that for him Brexit has meant pressure, stress, hard work, patience, resolve, persistence, perseverance and responsibility.

“There is no magic recipe,” he said.

“We all know what we are up against. The gauntlet was thrown down very early on.”

He recalled how just after the referendum result the former Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo had said the Spanish flag over Gibraltar was much closer than ever before.

“The Spanish flag remains today exactly where it always was, firmly planted on the other side of the border,” Dr Garcia said.

Leader of the GSD Keith Azopardi called for positivity with Spain where each country respects one another and spoke about the changes in Gibraltar over the years.

He spoke about the societal differences where he listed “voluntary or imposed segregation” in the local community some decades ago.

“Tolerance is a bad word we could celebrate cultural diversity,” he said.

“We need to recognise this is an area where there hasn’t been sufficient change as quickly as there needs to be,” he said, highlighting of not just tolerating others, but celebrating cultural diversity.
“In some respects I was brought up in a place where yes, it was tolerant, but there was voluntary segregation in different districts such as Moroccan workers.”

He said this changed as the “physical barriers” were removed in 1982 and 1985 when the frontier opened for pedestrians and then for cars. This also changed due to education and an economic shift, he added.

These changes brought challenges and opportunities according to Mr Azopardi.

He spoke about social media and the need for global regulation of its content as young children could be bullied online.

Issues that have been slow to change are discrimination, intolerance and sexism, he added.

“I think Gibraltar is still a chauvinistic society in some respects and I think we need to deal with that and give real equality,” Mr Azopardi said.

Another issue he highlighted was the stigma associated with mental health, highlighting the importance of education in this context.

See feature on pages 12 and 13 of the print or e-edition.