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SDGG urges C24 to ‘act more decisively’ on Gibraltar

The SDGG's Richard Buttigieg addressing the United Nations' Committee of 24

Gibraltar’s withdrawal from the European Union has enabled some people in Spain to view this “as an opportunity to further an outdated irridentist claim”, Richard Buttigieg, Chairman of the Self-Determination for Gibraltar Group, told the United Nation’s Committee of 24 on Monday.

Mr Buttigieg was in New York to petition Gibraltar’s right to self-determination.

In his four-minute address, Mr Buttigieg implored the Committee of 24 to “act more decisively” on the issue of Gibraltar against a backdrop of Brexit.

He told the Committee that the frontier between Spain and Gibraltar was closed by General Franco in 1969, which “tore families apart, destroyed businesses on both sides of the border and totally alienated the people of Gibraltar from the outside world”.

The frontier was reopened in the early 1980s when Spain wanted to become a member of the European Union which was a “beginning of a new era for Gibraltar and its people”.

“Ironically, nearly 40 years later, the EU is once again relevant to the next stage of Gibraltar’s evolution,” Mr Buttigieg said.

“Everyone will be aware that the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU.”

“As a consequence, Gibraltar was forced to do so as well.”

“Leaving the Union meant that Gibraltar can no longer rely on the protection afforded by EU laws in order to ensure a fluid border.”

“Some in Spain saw this as an opportunity to further an outdated irridentist claim.”

“The Government of Gibraltar is negotiating hard to ensure that this is not going to be possible.”

“Regardless of the outcome of the negotiations, however, no one in Spain should be under any illusions.”

“The people of Gibraltar will not yield to any form of pressure.”

Mr Buttigieg said the United Kingdom and Gibraltar “have developed a modern relationship which is non-colonial in nature” which grants the Rock a level of self-governance.

But he also questioned Spain’s unwillingness to “test its outdated claims over the sovereignty of Gibraltar in an international court”.

He asked what the Committee of 24 was “waiting for in order to act”.

“You repeatedly urge the United Kingdom and Spain to resolve the issue of Gibraltar, but it should be abundantly clear to everyone concerned that there cannot be any progress on the decolonisation of Gibraltar if the right of self-determination of the Gibraltarians is not respected,” Mr Buttigieg said.

“As the guardians of such a fundamental right we must and will continue to demand positive action from you.”

“Firstly, this Committee should tell us, once and for all, what else we must do if, in your view, Gibraltar has not done enough to achieve delisting.”

“This is a question that has been posed to you for over a decade and which you continue to ignore.”

“Secondly, this Committee must, as it is mandated to do, send a visiting mission to Gibraltar for it to see for itself what we are about.”

“I simply cannot understand the reluctance to do so.”

Mr Buttigieg told the Committee that he appreciated that the issue of Gibraltar “may not be a simple one to resolve”, but added that there is “more it can and should do”.

“Do not make the mistake of thinking that the People of Gibraltar will soften their stance,” Mr Buttigieg said.

“We will never weaken in our resolve.”

“Because successive generations of Gibraltarians have endured many hardships and their sacrifices can never be in vain.”

“Because the Rock of Gibraltar is built on the shoulders of those who faced the burdens of an oppressive dictator, and that Rock can never fall.”

“But, most of all, because our children must grow up with the privilege of being able to be the sole arbiters of their destiny.”

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