On Gibraltar sovereignty

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May 8, 2017

Dear Editor
I refer to the letter from Wilfred Weissmann of April 17, 2017 in response to mine of April 6 concerning this matter, in which he wrongly stated that I had said that Gibraltar belongs to Spain.
He then went on to refer to my information gap, my poor historical knowledge and my lack of extensive research, when he, Weissmann, was seeking to rely solely on Article X of the Treaty of Utrecht 1713, often referred to as the Treaty of Peace.
Dealing with those matters in order. Firstly, I did not state that Gibraltar belongs to Spain, but rather I stated that, “It is my humble opinion it does belong to Spain, despite the all-embracing Treaty of Utrecht 1713.” I should add that that Treaty is in fact comprised of a series of Treaties drawn up in order to bring to an end not only the wars in Europe and the Americas, West Indies, etc but also the many various claims to succession or title to various lands and dominions in Europe at that time. I made that statement because there are a number of other considerations which must be taken into account, although Weissmann, in his rush to criticise me, had not troubled himself to investigate.
Firstly, for the benefit of Weissmann, expressing an opinion is just that, an opinion. In law, we often do that on a daily basis because it leaves the door open to a contrary opinion, especially since we know that even judges of our Supreme Court often disagree with each other. Further, when reaching that opinion, I had considered all the facts and not merely the Treaty as it relates to GB’s acquisition of Gibraltar. I could say that Weissmann should have gone to Specsavers before embarking upon his wandering rant, during which he also made offensive remarks about sundry others, although in that respect he is not worthy of my further attention.
Dealing with his impertinent remarks about my poor historical knowledge and lack of extensive research, unlike Weissmann, when reaching my opinion, I had also relied upon other important matters and not merely the historical events which led up to Britain’s acquisition of Gibraltar, but also more recent and very pertinent events, including interventions by the UN. Before dealing with those, let me first say that my article was mainly concerning Gibraltar’s future in the post finalisation of the Brexit talks, and in particular I had been prompted by the front page of The Sun newspaper of April 4, which displayed a picture of Gibraltar below which was the headline, “Up yours senors”. Apart from the spelling error I considered that to be offensive towards the Spanish people, especially coming at a time when GB needs good will from Spain as well as all other Member States.
Had Weissmann read my letter properly he would have seen where I wrote, “I’ve only touched the very basic history of the Rock and that to cover it more fully I would need to write a book”. Unlike Weissmann, I concerned myself with not only the entire 38 pages of the Treaties, rather than merely its Article X, upon Weissmann had relied, but in addition, that most important UN Resolution 1514 (XV) on the ‘Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples’, adopted by the General Assembly on December 14, 1960. I also relied on the many meetings held between the parties in attempt to, including the Lisbon Agreement 1980, which ended in a diplomatic stalemate, the Brussels Agreement, 1984, albeit that also proved to be non-productive because the agreement was criticised by Gibraltar politicians for limiting the participation of Gibraltarians in determining their own future as it did not involve the people of Gibraltar.
The issues surrounding the dispute are far too complex to explain here, but save to say that GB is entrenched in its position that they will make no agreement with Spain without the will of the Gibraltarians, whereas Spain maintains the position that as Gibraltar must be considered an integral part of Spain, the Gibraltarians can have no say in its sovereignty, although it has offered joint sovereignty with GB. As far as the wishes of the Gibraltarians are concerned, it is unclear because on the one hand they had insisted upon independence, but more recently they have voted to remain under British sovereignty.
The jury are still out on this matter and in the meantime the UN have held a number of meetings pursuant to the ‘Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples’ and have urged all parties to resolve this matter amicably by its decision 66/522 on December 9, 2011.
I wish it to be known that I will not entertain any future banter with Mr Weissmann.

David R Burrage

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