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Caruana Welcomes New Governor

by Jason Gorringe,, London

11 October 2006

Delivering a welcome address on the occasion of the swearing-in of Sir Robert Fulton as the new Governor and Commander in Chief of Gibraltar, Chief Minister Peter Caruana recently took the opportunity to reflect on the positive changes in the jurisdiction's fortunes, and its relations with the United Kingdom and Spain, since his predecessor assumed the role.

"You come to Gibraltar at a very good time in Gibraltar’s affairs. This is best reflected in the changes in our fortunes that we have witnessed in the three years since we greeted your predecessor, Sir Francis Richard, in May 2003," Mr Caruana told Sir Robert at the ceremony late last month. He continued:

"Yesterday I re-read my welcome address to Sir Francis on this very occasion on the day of his arrival. Those were difficult times in our relations with the British Government, given the latter’s calamitous and, happily for all, now abandoned, attempt to share sovereignty of Gibraltar with Spain. But I was struck yesterday by the extent to which all the issues then cluttering our decks have since being very satisfactorily resolved."

"Not least, as I say, the joint sovereignty policy itself, now replaced by a very public and welcome commitment on HMG’s part not to participate in any process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content. It is a self evident reality, accepted by all, that the future of Gibraltar can only be decided by and with the consent of, the people of Gibraltar ourselves."

"Gone too, is the concept of bilateralism between the UK and Spain in relation to the affairs and future of Gibraltar, a bilateralism epitomised by the so-called and infamous Brussels Process, which has given way to a new Trilateral Process of dialogue between the Governments of Gibraltar, Spain and the UK, on the very basis that we had been calling for since 1996, namely, open agenda (and thus not focused, still less predetermined, as to Sovereignty), with each of the three participants present on the same basis and, most importantly, with nothing to be agreed unless all three agree."

He observed that:

"For the first time this has made dialogue particularly safe and viable for Gibraltar. We look forward to continuing to working constructively within this Forum to normalise as far as possible our relations with Spain, given of course that none of the parties has altered its position or objective on the fundamental issues of sovereignty and self determination."

The Chief Minister continued:

"We now have acceptance of our telephone IDD code, which brings with it a resolution of all telecommunication issues. Our airport acquires its full EU Open Skies and other rights and international operational normality, while remaining under our Sovereignty, jurisdiction and control. In achieving this, we have also been able to make our airport’s enhanced use more conveniently available for the benefit of our neighbours as well, thus contributing greatly to cross border relations. We welcome that too."

"We will now forge ahead with the implementation of these very good agreements, which are of course a package, and not an a la carte menu for Gibraltar."

"I also referred to Spain’s challenge, in the European Court of Justice, to the arrangements made by the UK for Gibraltar’s enfranchisement at European Parliamentary elections, now also happily settled by a favourable ruling of that Court in the UK’s favour."

"And finally, I referred to our intention to submit formally to HMG, Gibraltar’s proposal for the modernisation of our Constitution and thus for a modern, non-colonial relationship between the UK and Gibraltar. I am happy to say that we have reached an excellent constitutional settlement with the UK. In this Constitution, the UK declares its recognition of our right to self determination, and maximises our self government to the greatest extent compatible with our desire to retain British Sovereignty."

Looking to the territory's financial situation in 2006, Mr Caruana announced:

"But these are not just good times politically. They are also good times economically. Our economy and consequently our public finances too are enjoying unprecedent levels of prosperity and success. Employment and investment in our economy have grown to record levels. We are simultaneously able to deliver substantial increases in public spending to improve public services and to significantly cut taxes."

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