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Spain cannot be trusted, SDGG tells C24

The Tax Treaty covering Gibraltar and Spain represents "at the very least” Spanish recognition of the legal existence of Gibraltarian institutions.

But it is also a further display of the incongruity of Spain’s position on Gibraltar, former Self Determination for Gibraltar Group Chairman Dennis Matthews told the United Nations Committee of 24 yesterday.

Addressing the C24 as a petitioner on behalf of the SDGG, Mr Matthews said: “Spain cannot be allowed to rely on certain principles when it suits them, as under the treaty because they get their hands on more taxes, but to then disregard the same principles when they do not like them because accepting them defeats their anachronistic and outdated claim.”

Pointing to Spain’s position during the course of the Brexit negotiations, Mr Matthews said Spain “simply cannot be trusted”.

“They used all their political leverage within the European Union to ensure Gibraltar was referred to as a colony in one of the Brexit documents,” Mr Matthews informed the Committee.

“They did this without regard for the difficulties it created to the Brexit negotiation process and ignoring heavy criticism from various Member States.”

“Spain had no compunction in pursing their outdated claim even if it meant derailing Brexit negotiations. That is how obstinate and spiteful this so called democratic country is.”

He therefore urged the committee to consider Spain’s contribution to the session in light of how they behave towards Gibraltar.

“It is not a country that makes a proposal in good will or seeks an amicable solution to an issue,” Mr Matthews said.

“It is a bully who, still rotten by fascist tendencies, seeks to coerce and force its will on a people against their democratically expressed wishes.”

He added: “This is the Spain that appears before this Committee trying to make it seem it is extending an olive branch when in fact it is offering a poisoned apple.”

Despite this, Mr Matthews underscored that Gibraltar wants friendly relations with its neighbour.

“If Spain seeks to extend the hand of honest friendship to Gibraltar, whilst respecting our wishes, we will grasp it. We do not seek confrontation, nor do we want to create issues where there are none. We would be happy to be able to live in harmony with our neighbours.”

“So do not for one moment consider the people of Gibraltar to be the difficult ones. We are not the problem. We do not want to fight. We are not secessionists. We simply seek respect for our democratically expressed wishes.”

Mr Matthews, a long time Gibraltarian campaigner for self-determination, swiftly reminded the committee that the wishes of Gibraltarians were paramount.

“But let us be clear that, if there is no respect for the wishes and aspirations of the people of Gibraltar, we will never cease in our staunch defence of our right to self-determination.”

“We will never weaken in our resolve,” he said.

He reminded the C24 that successive generations of Gibraltarians had endured “many hardships” and said their sacrifices can never be in vain.

“Because Gibraltar has been built on the shoulders of those who faced the burdens of an oppressive dictator and that building 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.”