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Picardo and Feetham look beyond Margallo

The Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, and the Leader of the Opposition, Daniel Feetham, have both expressed their desire for improved relations between Gibraltar and Spain now that José Manuel García-Margallo is no longer Spain’s Foreign Minister.

In separate interviews – Mr Picardo with GBC and Mr Feetham with Europa Press – the two men set out how they hoped relations between Gibraltar and Madrid would change post-Margallo.

“He may not be much missed,” Mr Picardo said of Spain’s former Foreign Minister.

Though he added: “He has never hidden what his views are, he has been transparent in what his approach was from the first moment that he became Foreign Minister and in that way it was very easy for us to expose to the rest of the world what it was that we were facing.”

Asked if there was more to fear if Spain’s new Foreign Minister, Alfonso Dastis Quecedo, turns out to be ‘more moderate and subtle’ than Sr Margallo, Mr Picardo replied: “Gibraltar never has anything to fear”.

“This is a time within Gibraltar, in Madrid, and in London, I would propose, for calm reflection, for discretion, for dialogue and for cooperation,” he said, as he renewed his call for the resumption of talks under the Tripartite Forum for Dialogue.

That, he said, is the way that he wanted to deal with the issue of the relationship between Gibraltar, Britain and Spain, but “the style of Sr Margallo did not allow us to do any of that”.

“We will see what it is Sr Dastis brings to the equation,” Mr Picardo said.

In his interview with Europa Press, Mr Feetham expressed his desire for improved relations between the Rock and the Government of Spain, “now that the Foreign Minister is no longer Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo.”

Mr Feetham added in this regard that “it has closed a stage where we have fallen in relations between Gibraltar and Spain," so he expressed confidence that the arrival of Sr Dastis at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would "serve to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.”

“I hope that together we can stand up to the challenges ahead with Brexit,” he said, adding that the issue of sovereignty should be set to one side.

"We have many areas to work on [including] the promotion of employment, social and business cultural relations.”

To Mr Feetham, the joint sovereignty proposal tabled by Sr García-Margallo "has little acceptance in Gibraltar because the Gibraltarians have made clear they do not want joint sovereignty".

In his view, Brexit can also be an "opportunity" for dialogue and understanding.

In this regard, he noted that the new minister, being from the province of Cadiz, “can have a real knowledge of the situation that exists here.”