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Picardo seeks 'dialogue, understanding and cooperation' with Spain's new PM

CM & Parliament 01-06-18 (Photo John Bugeja) speaks on the Rajoy defeat

Gibraltar will seek “dialogue, understanding and cooperation” with Spain’s new Socialist government, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told the Gibraltar Parliament on Friday.

Addressing Gibraltarian MPs, Mr Picardo said the importance to Gibraltar of the political change in Spain “cannot be underestimated”.

Mr Picardo, the leader of the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party, said he had already written to Mr Sanchez to congratulate him and express Gibraltar’s desire for constructive engagement in talks about the Rock’s port-Brexit relationship with Spain.

Parliament in session

Parliament in session

“The next 10 months will be decisive in many ways for Gibraltar, as we move towards the 29th March 2019 and our departure from the European Union with the United Kingdom,” Mr Picardo said.

“The result of the events in the Spanish Parliament today will mean that the ideology of those with whom we engage in Spain, and the manner in which we engage with them, may change.”

“We will not be found wanting when it comes to demonstrating the willingness of the people of Gibraltar to engage constructively in dialogue in pursuit of policies designed to deliver co-operation and good neighbourly relations between our people.”

“I sincerely wish that we will see that sentiment reciprocated so that we can advance matters in the common interest of the citizens we each represent.”

Elliott Phillips, the Leader of the Opposition

Elliott Phillips, the Leader of the Opposition

Responding to Mr Picardo’s statement, GSD MP Elliott Phillips, the Leader of the Opposition, acknowledged the seismic change in Spanish politics, but cautioned that it was “too soon” to draw any firm conclusions as to the implications for Gibraltar, adding that the minority Socialist government was in “fragile”.

“But it’s true that traditionally, it has been easier to deal with a Socialist government in Spain,” he said.

“We identify clearly that there is possibly an opportunity here to re-engage in talks that otherwise face obstacles.”

“We also identify possibly an opportunity to restore the trilateral process.”

Independent MP Marlene Hassan Nahon

Independent MP Marlene Hassan Nahon

Independent MP Marlene Hassan Nahon congratulated Spanish parliamentarians who had “stood up for accountability and transparency” by backing the motion to remove Mariano Rajoy from office.

“In their motion of no confidence they have sent a clear message to anyone who wants to use political systems to their personal advantage,” she said.

Ms Hassan Nahon echoed the Chief Minister’s desire for positive relations with Spain.

“If communities on both sides of the border can cooperate with good will while respecting the red lines of sovereignty, we can fight the narrative of the Spanish right wing,” she said.

“In seeking dialogue, we fight reactionary statements.”

“In seeking collaboration, we escape the siege mentality.”

“In seeking respect, we can be an example of stability in an unstable world.”