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Pique Intransigent Over Gibraltar Referendum

by Robert Lee,, London

05 July 2002

Despite reports that he is keen to announce some kind of agreement when the United Kingdom and Spain meet again on July 12, it seems that Spanish Foreign Minister, Josep Pique is making no attempt to avoid controversy over the Gibraltar sovereignty talks.

Reporting on Thursday, the Iberia news service revealed that Senor Pique this week gave an interview on Spanish radio in which he again stated that Spain will not pledge to abide by the results of a referendum of Gibraltar's residents held to determine sovereignty of the Rock.

This is one of the major sticking points in the Anglo-Spanish talks, as the British have committed themselves, in the preamble to Gibraltar's constitution, to allowing the terrritory's residents the right to choose in any decision which affects their future.

Iberia news revealed that the Spanish Foreign Minister told a leading national radio station earlier this week that while Madrid will not attempt to interfere in the UK's own decision-making process, and can reconcile itself to the referendum taking place, the results - likely to be an overwhelming rejection of whatever proposals are put forward by the two countries - will never be respected by Spain.

'What is not reasonable is that a decision by the UK should be binding on Spain, and for Spain that referendum will therefore never have any validity in itself, let alone from the viewpoint of what it may represent as an exercise of the right to self-determination.,' he said on Wednesday.

The news service reported earlier this week that the Senor Pique, speaking to the Spanish media, revealed that he expects some kind of agreement to be reached during the next Anglo-Spanish meeting, and that he would like a fuller accord between the two countries over Gibraltarian sovereignty to be reached before he steps down as Foreign Minister in September.

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