Monday, September 18, 2006

Gibraltar

At last there seems to be some concrete evidence of Spanish, Gibraltarian and UK pragmatism over the 300-year-old running sore on sovereignty.

According to the FCO press release there were four main outcomes of the series of meetings started in Feb 2005:
  1. An agreement on the use of Gibraltar airport [though only Spaniards will benefit to start with as the airport will be treated as part of Spanish airspace, so Spaniards will not have to go through border controls to fly to or from there from other Spanish airports - flight from Madrid are due to start in December]
  2. An agreement on the setting up of red and green channels [though I can't see the chavs from Gibraltar paying much attention for moving their fags]
  3. An agreement on telecomms [possibly, Spaniards will have to make an international call to reach Gibraltar]
  4. An agreement on pensions to pay the Spanish dockyard workers who lost their jobs as a result of the border closure [1969-1984 - the UK government will stump up the backlog of 4 million euro (about 6,000 euro per pensioner), starting with a first payment in April 2007 to retired workers or their families if deceased]

All this should be good news for the people who contribute to the 7 million crossings each year.

Interestingly, none of the UK versions carried the history of the border movements which have taken place, and Spain still does not recognize the current border. The orginal Utrecht treaty was rather vague, referring to the 'rock' of Gibraltar which may or may not include the isthmus connecting it to the mainland. Over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries the British moved their 'border' five times; in 1810 to slight the forts of Santa Barbara and San Felipe, in 1815 and 1854 following outbreaks of yellow fever to set up isolation camps, again in 1909 to construct a new border fence, and finally in 1935 to construct the runway.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Bit about the British 'moving the border is propaganda' now read

http://www.gibnet.com/texts/neutral.htm

Before the runway was constructed there was a racetrack on the site and the frontier was where it is today.

El Casareño Ingles said...

That's exactly my point - neither side can agree on anything without the UK govt. leaning on one side or the other.

Like any border dispute, the situation is only further inflamed by either side if they build on or occupy disputed territory, q.v. Israel, Cyprus, etc.