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Margallo points to discord at UN over Gibraltar

Spain will press to have Gibraltar excluded from the UK’s negotiations to withdraw from the European Union, José Manuel García-Margallo insisted this week as he signalled that the fallout from the Brexit vote would also likely spill over into the UN.

Spain’s acting Foreign Minister was speaking after a brief brush-by encounter with UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in Brussels on Monday on the sidelines of an EU Foreign Council meeting.

Ahead of that meeting, Mr Johnson had made clear that the UK would stand by its double-lock sovereignty commitment to Gibraltar and would “fully involve” Gibraltar in discussions on the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

“Spain’s position is that it makes no sense to include Gibraltar in the negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom,” Sr García-Margallo countered.

“Gibraltar is once again a bilateral matter, in accordance with Lisbon, Brussels and UN resolutions.”

Addressing reporters at a briefing in Brussels, Sr García-Margallo repeated the well-known Spanish line that Gibraltar’s decolonisation was a bilateral matter “exclusively” for the UK and Spain and that the principle of territorial integrity, not self-determination, should apply.

And in a clear sign of the widening breach between the UK and Spain on Gibraltar, Sr García-Margallo suggested that there may be no consensus decision at the UN Fourth Committee later this year.

The committee adopts a decision on Gibraltar every year and this is usually agreed beforehand by the UK and Spain, often after much diplomatic wrangling over language as each side sets out its respective position. If there is no consensus, it goes to a vote.

“This year, I can announce that the resolution we present to the UN will probably not be by mutual agreement, for the first time in a long time,” Sr García-Margallo said, although he did not expand.

That statement, together with other comments he made in Brussels, were being pored over by officials in Gibraltar and the UK yesterday.


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