THE head of Gibraltar’s push for self-determination believes that being a central part of EU Treaty negotiations shows how the UK and even Spain trusts the Rock’s government to decide its own people’s future.
Chairman of the Self-Determination for Gibraltar Group (SDGG) Richard Buttigieg echoed Chief Minister Fabian Picardo’s message about the Rock’s ‘inalienable right to self-determination.’
Despite National Day being cancelled, Gibraltar continued its quest for self-determination at the United Nations committee on decolonisation recently.
“There is an element of self-determination in the ongoing talks and all surrounding issues in the sense that it is Gibraltar through its government and representatives that is making its own case for what it wants its post-Brexit reality to be,” Buttigieg told the Olive Press.
“This ability to choose what we want ourselves is at the very heart of the SDGG ethos.”
Even while the National Day organisers await the final result of current negotiations, its chairman believes the fight will not end with a deal, or even no deal.
“One must remember that such a right is not exercised once and for all, or indeed only once,” he said.
“The right to self-determination is a continuing right in the sense that we must always be in charge of our own future.
“So we can, and should always try, to progress our rights.”
If a deal is reached, the activist believes that Gibraltar might have to look at changes to its 2006 relationship with the UK, as the government has hinted at over the last few years in regard to Brexit.
“It may well be necessary to review our constitution depending on and if a post-Brexit deal is achieved,” Buttigieg said.
“It will of course be crucial that if there are any constitutional changes they do not detract from our ability to exercise our right to self-determination.”
Spain’s official line at United Nations meetings has always been to label Gibraltar a colony and not give them a voice.
But the latest EU negotiations seem to have signalled a different attitude under the current left-wing coalition.
“I think that although the official position is that negotiations are officially between the UK and Spain, Gibraltar is far from being ignored,” Buttigieg said.
“Not only is it present in all meetings but, as I understand it, it is Gibraltar’s views and positions that are shaping the discussions and even the minutiae of the outcome.”
And he said it is no surprise either considering the ever greater voices of small territories across the world to decide their own future.
Taiwan, Basque Country, Catalunya, Western Sahara, Kurdistan and Hong Kong have all pushed their own agendas on the international stage, often against much more powerful international forces than their own.
“As more and more countries or territories such as these seek to pursue their own agendas, Gibraltar’s position can be strengthened and it might become more difficult to refute our arguments,” the SDGG chairman said.
“We must therefore continue the fight however frustrated we might sometimes get and however long it takes.
“It is a fight worth fighting – for our sake, in honour of those generations before who gave up so much and for the sake of our children.”
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