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Wednesday, 12 February, 2003, 08:57 GMT
'Secret talks' may decide Gibraltar future
The Rock of Gibraltar
Residents are opposed to Spanish sovereignty
Gibraltar's chief minister claims 'secret talks' between Britain and Spain could mean a deal being struck for joint sovereignty of the Rock.

Peter Caruana is warning the good relationship struck between the prime ministers of the two countries over Iraq may lead to a "pay off" for Spain.

We not think Senior Aznar should expect any pay off related to Gibraltar and our British sovereignty

Peter Caruana

This comes despite the fact that in November the Rock's residents voted almost unanimously in a referendum against shared sovereignty.

Spain's prime minister Jose Maria Aznar has been regarded as a close ally of British PM Tony Blair, over the prospect of war with Iraq.

The pair met in Spain last month when both Mr Blair and Mr Aznar stressed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had a "last chance" to disarm.

Unanimously

Mr Caruana, speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, said the new relationship between Britain and Spain is welcomed, but not if it includes discussion on the future of Gibraltar.

Peter Caruana, Chief Minister of Gibraltar
Caruana: Talks should not be continuing
"We are delighted that Britain and Spain should get on well together ... but do not think Senior Aznar should expect any pay off related to Gibraltar and our British sovereignty," he said.

In a referendum on 7 November last year, 98.97% of Gibraltar's population voted against shared sovereignty.

At the time both London and Madrid said the vote would not halt discussions on the issue.

'Not right'

But Mr Caruana said this should not be the case.

He said talks between government officials between the two countries went ahead on Tuesday, with the issue of Gibraltar's sovereignty again on the agenda.

"We think talks in that direction should be put to bed and an alternative route sought," he said.

"It is not right that after the referendum, British government policy should be based on dialogue to reach an agreement on sovereignty."

He said the British government should be committed to respecting the views of the Rock's residents, whose decision was almost unanimous.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Peter Caruana, Chief Minister of Gibraltar
"The people of Gibraltar don't want exclusive or shared Spanish sovereignty"

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03 Mar 99 | Politics
08 Nov 02 | Europe
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