Saturday, 26 June 2010

Tripartite-tism and the Three Parties

My understanding is that each of the three main parties now support the tripartite process.  The difference is that the GSD's policy is coherent, whether one supports it or not.  The support of the process by the GSLP/Libs and the PDP is qualified.  They criticise much of what  has resulted, so far, from these discussions or claim to want to re-negotiate some.  They do not make public what their support of the process is intended to result in.  It is difficult to understand how a party can support a process of discussion with the attributes of the tripartite process yet not be committed to what, so obviously, it is  aimed at.

Peter Caruana has eloquently described the process as serving " ... to contain problems ..."  and  "... as a piece of dialogue architecture where these continuing problems and serious continuing disputes ... can be discussed".  He has said also that " ... it gives us a degree of contact with the Spanish Government ... it gives us the opportunity to manage these problems , to contain these problems in a way that serves better the wider interests of Gibraltar."  It " ... has allowed us to to condemn bilateralism between Spain and UK about Gibraltar to history ... By playing a constructive part in the dialogue about Gibraltar's affairs we also obtain greater security ..."

But what and where do  the GSD and Mr Caruana say the process will take Gibraltar? Again, it is best to quote Mr Caruana in answer to this question:  " ... we are perfectly willing to explore possible formulas for a future acceptable to everyone, so long as people understand that the primary consideration is the wishes of the people of Gibraltar... Spain  is free to raise the question of sovereignty as we are free to raise the question of self-determination ... nothing can be agreed which is not entirely acceptable to the Government and the people of Gibraltar.  That is a very comfortable and safe position for Gibraltar to be in... it is hugely in Gibraltar's favour that our difficulties with Spain should be resolved.  It is the obligation of every generation, without abandoning our legitimate rights and aspirations as a people, to try and leave a less problematic for our  future generations than we have".

The circumstances that gave rise to the tripartite process were very opportune.  The GSD, who favoured dialogue with Spain, was in power in Gibraltar.  The PSOE who favoured dialogue to resolve many of Spain's separatist internal issues, like that of Catalonia and of the Basque country, was in power in Spain.  Surely, it would have been very difficult for the Spanish Government to start dialogue to resolve internal separatist issues without taking an equally logical stance and being willing to enter a dialogue with Gibraltar?

One of the dynamics of dispute resolution is that, if you keep the parties in the dispute talking, usually the dispute will not worsen.  Another dynamic is that, if discussions continue for long enough, an atmosphere of friendship and trust develops, which helps understanding and eventual resolution.  These dynamics are well understood by diplomats.  They are used all the time, one of the most publicised occasions, recently, is in Northern Ireland.  The statements of Mr Caruana indicate that he understands and accepts these dynamics, safeguarding himself, politically, by the age old adage that any agreement is subject to the wishes of the people of Gibraltar.

What will happen if there is a change in government both in Gibraltar and in Spain to the two extremes?  The GSLP/Libs in Gibraltar and the PP in Spain.  If the process does not come to a grinding halt, the dynamics will continue to work.  In Northern Ireland it was when the diametrically opposite poles joined the dialogue, that resolutions started to became a reality.  Will it be the same in Gibraltar?  That is why it is important for the GSLP/Libs and, indeed, the PDP, as they may well be a political force at some stage, to clarify their support of the process.  Can it be any different from that of the GSD?


  1. With polls predicting a PP landslide win in the Spanish General Election and the British Coalition government focused on the Economy yours is a timely reminder that our relations with Spain may soon enter a new dimension. The PP could revert to the old Spanish distraction of a country on the verge of bankruptcy with the call for Gibraltar Espanol. Has Rajoy learnt the lessons of 2002 when Spanish stridency over Gibraltar led to the Perejil incident with Morocco? I would not count on it. The Castilian oligarchy is smarting over the Catalan challenge to national integrity, this could also spur the likes of the future PP foreign minister Gustavo de Aristegui (a prototypical Basque espanolista) to show their loyalty to Spanish unitarism with aggression towards us. Another element is the USA's pro-Argentinian stance on the Falklands which could impact on our own situation. It could however go either way; if US support for Argentina can be translated as tacit support for Spain on Gibraltar then it could also be read as favouring Morocco's claims to the remnants of the Spanish Protectorate. Messrs Bossano and Garcia for the official opposition and Mr. Azopardi for the PDP should not be pressed into issuing any statements which lock them into rigid positions in a scenario which is likely to be very fast moving when the PP get into power and therefore requires flexibility on our side. For my part I think that the Trilateral Agreement was a great success for Gibraltar and Peter Caruana but this is no time for our politicians to seek local political advantage which could derail our advances. In my humble view all the gentlemen mentioned above should, as patriotic Gibraltarians, meet in private to devise a strategy to deal with the changing scenario which you allude to.

  2. There is nothing wrong with talking (I hate PC's fave word 'dialorrrggg')but isn't it all a bit of a farce??

    The 'stone' in Spain's shoe is (if i'm not mistaken) their objection to a British colony on their turf.I can understand that but isn't the solution therefore simple?

    Those who prefer the comfort zone of our colonial status will undoubtedly slaughter me for saying this, but what about a truly independent Gibraltar??

    Spain would be hypocritical if they objected as the colonial 'stigma' would no longer exist, and UK would have one less international embarassment to worry about!

    Simples (as the Meerkat would say) right? It isn't though as our friends across the Atlantic are never going to let it happen.

    We are the victims of our geographical location at a stones throw from the Islamic world. Obama's lot want British control of the Western Med and have never trusted Spain's NATO credentials.

    In my humble opinion we are consequently consigned to an indefinite 'status quo' and no amount of political posturing will ever change that!

    The best we can hope for is to live with Spain as friendly neighbours, but that would require a major shift in the traditional 'Gib bashing' stance adopted by Spanish Governments for decades.

    Food for thought??...Max

  3. Hi Max

    Unfortunately Spain seeks the return of soversignty not just the cessation of Gibratar's status of British colony. On PC's analysis we are no lomger a colony. If that were so and you were right the Spanish issue is resolved already. Clearly it is not resolved.

  4. RV...PC can say whatever he wants but we are a colony and will continue to be so as long as it suits others.

    Those who pay lip service to self determination are just farting in a wind tunnel!!... UDI !!!!! Max

  5. True Gibraltarians (the unfeathered ones) know that the Cordoba agreement has and will only favour our 'friendly' neighbours. We gain nothing!

    Yes to good neighbourly relationships but no ties with wishy washy agreements which takes us nowhere. Furthermore this agreement should have been put to the People for its approval.
    Then we get that we are no longer a colony....what next?

    It's about time we tell the world what status we want to atain and close all windows which our feathered friends love to leave open claiming that one day we might decide to become spanish.......let's shut these windows once and for all,so those who feel dovish can fly and nest over the border, and stop this direct rule of the selected few from Doveland.

    Independence? Why not I ask

  6. LWRV

    You quote PC extensively in this latest blog but not your source. Are you quoting from the marathon interview he gave to the Chronic on 17 June 2010?

  7. Hi Fabio

    Yes the quotes are from that interview.

  8. Charles Gomez.28 June 2010 at 12:29

    I am interested in Anon's post at 12 mins after midnight: "True Gibraltarians (the unfeathered ones) know that the Cordoba agreement has and will only favour our 'friendly' neighbours. We gain nothing!" Could he / she please explain what he or she means. How does Cordoba favour Spain at our expense? Details please; you make a serious statement but if you do not explain some might think that you are not taking this important issue for our people with the seriousness that it deserves. Thanks in advance.

  9. Isobel Ellul-Hammond28 June 2010 at 16:20

    Dear Robert

    I believe this forum on which to discuss ideas is brilliant, and well done for starting 'Llanito World', it is a breath of fresh air.
    However, as Charles Gomez 12.29 says, it would be helpful if some of the 'sweeping statements' made by contributors were elaborated on with sound reasoning and proof, it would give the authors more credibility.
    Also, hiding such statements behind a pseudonym or 'anonymous' gives the author the opportunity, carte blanche, to espouse derogatory sentiments from one party or another (as has been seen in other blogs' comments) and get away with it!
    I am not saying, Robert, that you are irresponsible with what you allow to be published, however it would be reasonable (I think) for you to ask contributors to give their names.
    Let's have debate and discussion, but let's do it openly and transparently (isn't that what people want?).

    Isobel Ellul-Hammond

  10. Dear Isobel:

    Below is a reply that I gave this afternoon (and published as a comment under the previous blog) to Nyreen Llamas. She made similar points so I believe my published reply to her answers yours also. Please be assured that I have moderated out many many comments of a more outrageous content than those that you see published. What I do not want to do is stifle debate, so it is a fine line that I have to tread. Ido my best.

    "I have to agree with much if not all that Nyreen says.

    I do not know the facts of the internet letter sent by the GSD but do not doubt the accuracy of what she says.

    Propagandist and/or inaccurate comments do no favours but are detrimental to the interests of any political party in whose favour they are made. They also carry little or no weight. They are detrimental to and not an exercise of freedom of speech. In fact they give freedom of speech a bad name.

    The fact that they are made anonymously is even more pejorative. I do my best to moderate out comments on the basis that I will and do not (as far as I can) publish defamatory or outrageous comments. I am not privy to all information so inacuracies may creep into the comments that are published.

    Readers are reminded that the views of those who comment do not necessarily (or usually) refelct my views, even if i do not answer.

    I have been intending and will be writing a blog on this very subject.

    My view is that going forward, whilst anonymous comments or comments under pseudonyms will be published, I may well ask for persons to identify themselves to me before I will publish their comments anonymously or under a pseudonym so that, at least, I know who they are.

    I am trying (to the best of my ability) to write an "issue based" blog rather than a party or personality based blog. If the overall slant is percieved as beng against the GSD that is only because it is in government and having to take decisions. If there were to be a change in government the incumbents may well be faced with the same or greater criticism. It will depend on their performance at the time.

    I am grateful to Nyreen for having the breadth of mind to understand, accept and thank me for what I am attempting to achieve. My sadness is that one individual has to expose himself and that the established media does not do more of this. Democracy is the loser. I did not persist through a closed frontier fighting a dictatorship to end up muzzled in my own homeland. I think if people were to write in their own names democracy would get a major boost, which is much needed now that we are governed under the 2006 Constitution. This is not a party issue as the next party in government may well be a lot worse that the presnt GSD government.

    I continue to admire Peter Caruana for voclaising that, whilst he may not agree with what everyone says, he will defend their right to say it to the end. All I will say is, it is one thing to say it and another to practise it. In my case there have been absolutely no adverse effects on me emananting from tthe GSD government resulting from what I write on this blog."

  11. Isobel:

    Anonymity is the most powerful tool we have as an electorate.
    Do you not excercise it everytime you vote at a general election? Why should this blog be any different?
    Also, why do you equate anonymity with derogatory statements?
    I for one will continue to use a pseudonym for as long as LWRV allows me to. Si cambia dios dara!

  12. Isobel,

    In an ideal world, we would all be able to contribute and discuss/debate the pressing issues of the day using our real names, without fear of any sort of reprisal or repercussion. Sadly, in Gibraltar, this is not possible, particularly if one holds a view which is contrary to that held, in part or in whole, by the government of the day (regardless of who that might be).

    This is particularly the case if you happen to be a civil servant, which happens to be my case. Now, I can understand why this must be so in order to maintain and preserve the impartiality, or at least the semblance of such, of the civil service. But civil servants are also citizens and have opinions too and I welcome the opportunity to comment and voice an opinion under the cloak of anonymity, as long as this is done without resorting to insults, defamation, libel or any other manner of expression which might expose Robert personally to legal proceedings of one sort or another.

    I recall that in 2005 the present administration, amid the usual fanfare, declared that rules relating to the ability of civil servants to participate in the media on matters of public interest had been relaxed. Not so, and I can personally vouch for that fact.

    My apologies for going off-topic, and thanks to Robert again for the opportunity to voice a pseudonymed opinion free (within reason) of any sort of curtailment or restriction.

  13. Dear Llanito World

    I disagree with Isobel Ellul and not because of her affiliation to the GSD but simply if I were to reveal my identity I would suffer professioanally at the hands of this unforgiving administration. Sorry Isobel welcome to the real world.


  14. Honney bee says...

    The fact that one can select `anonymous` upon posting a comment suggests that this is common practice amongst blogs and I have in fact done so on various occassions on other blogs. It seems that some object to what is a perfectly acceptable manner of commenting elsewhere around the world.

    It is obviously the bloggers perogative to decide whether to publish or not and comments are not a reflection of the blogger`s views.

    Affording people the oportunity to comment anonymously is all the more important in a place the size of Gib where every one knows everyone. Without it the ability of the average man/woman on the street to voice an opinion is stifled... and I believe that was the original purpose of starting this blog..was it not ?

  15. Whilst I agree with Isobel's comments and think of her as an exemplary citizen, I think her comments show that she has been unaffected by the reality of the situation.

    Unfortunately there are many people who would suffer if they identified themselves and their comments. Unfortunately free speech without repurcussions is yet to become a reality in Gibraltar, whatever admin is in power. This place is too small!

  16. Mike, Honney Bee and others....You have all hit the nail firmly on the head!!

    The ONLY reason that we can speak freely here is our supposed 'cloak of anonymity'.Vox's former Editor could presumably testify to the dangers of openly voicing anti-GSD views??

    The GSD faithful seem anxious to see anonymity removed here...That would be the death of LW, but isn't that what they really want??...Max

  17. Dear all

    I only go online once (maybe twice) a day as work, home and kids keep me away from my computer, so apologies for delayed response...I am so glad to see the various reactions to my comments yesterday and how it has generated discussion (vive la diference, how boring if we were all in agreement!); freedom of speech is something I applaud, in whatever medium, and I hope this blog may continue to support this.

    Having freelanced for the media for over 22 years, I appreciate how careful we are in our small community when speaking freely. Over the years I have heard all the reasons for this, from potential ‘interviewees’, when I have found it so difficult to get people willing to be interviewed or to sit in on news/discussion programmes (especially live ones), or be allowed to participate!
    This has always been the frustrating aspect of working for the media in Gibraltar, and I wish it were different. The relaxation on the ban in 2005 was not really taken up and I would love for the public sector (who are on the frontline) to contribute to any debate by being able to offer their own constructive criticisms, because it would mean we have openness, accountability and a political system that ‘listens’.

    So...I concede to Calpetano 23.11 (28 June) that commenting as an Anon/pseudo on this forum is the only way for a civil servant to express his/her political views without some form of repercussion, especially when commenting on his/her boss (however that would go for anyone making a comment on his/her boss!). Yet, I don’t believe that everyone who comments here is a civil servant.

    But, as Anon 23.52 (28 June) says, “...Unfortunately there are many people who would suffer if they identified themselves and their comments. Unfortunately free speech without repercussions is yet to become a reality in Gibraltar, whatever admin is in power. This place is too small!...”
    So, if this is the popular view (and has been for years) is there ever any hope in Gibraltar for open debate and free expression? What are the solutions? Surely one small way of challenging this is by putting our names to a comment, which is true democracy in action?
    Robert 17.35 says: “...In my case there have been absolutely no adverse effects on me emanating from the GSD government resulting from what I write on this blog...", is this also true for Charles Gomez and Rebecca Faller?

    And by the way Anon 23.52 (28 June), thanks for your confidence in me as an ‘exemplary citizen’, however as to being unaffected by the realities of the real world, the opposite is true: it is because of this that I get ‘stuck-in’, have a sense of social responsibility and fight for everything I do and have done (and for those who know me, know this to be true!).

    Mike 22.18 (28 June): I do not equate anonymity with derogatory statements, I equate it with the OPPORTUNITY for making such comments if the author so wishes. My views on using anonymity to be critical concur with (28 June) 17.35 Robert’s when he says: “...Propagandist and/or inaccurate comments do no favours but are detrimental to the interests of any political party in whose favour they are made. They also carry little or no weight. They are detrimental to and not an exercise of freedom of speech. In fact they give freedom of speech a bad name. The fact that they are made anonymously is even more pejorative...”

    I'm off to collect the kids now....

  18. Perhaps to make it easier to follow arguments LWRV could "request" users adopt a pseudonym instead of an "anonymous" status?

  19. Charles Gomez.29 June 2010 at 15:21

    Isobel Ellul Hammond asks whether I have suffered any adverse effects as a result of my contributions to this forum. The answer is that it is impossible to know. I was never taught to hold my tongue or pocket my pen in the sight of some of the puffed up, arrogant individuals that we in Gibraltar sometimes manage to put in high places and the toadies who hang to their coat tails. As a result over the years I have managed to cultivate a certain amount of ill will from "a small minority" of people in high places and have learnt to expect what I believe to be rough or unfair treatment from successive governments and other "institutions". This used to annoy me and has cost me as I have been self employed, and indeed an employer, since my mid 20s. However I have now got over any sense of aggravation and derive some amusement from the bumptuousness and ridiculous sense of entitlement of some people. They may no doubt say equally nasty things about me. In my contributions however I try to be fair and constructive and I do not think that anything particularly outrageous or controversial has ever appeared on Robert's blog except when he chose to do religion...

  20. Hi all:

    I wonder whether we could get back on subject? Its the tripartite process folks!

  21. RV.....I think that Isobel got us off the subject!!....Max

  22. Rv looking fwd to reading a blog on the Budget - any plans???

    On the subject of the Budget - hats off to Susan Clifton-Tucker for her interview with the Chief on tonight's CaruanaWatch. Finally someone who was trying to ask "the" questions and challenged when needed! Tonight Susan has been a breath of fresh air and a welcome change to the usual Caruana-monologues and the GBC reporters Yes Bwana style that we have come to see in recent years.

  23. Peter "the Great" Caruana ought to be commended by the electorate for his prudent style of government. Gibraltar can in the height of world economic suffering boost of record reserves and budget surpluses.

    Also I wish to extend my gratitude to Peter for increasing Water and Elec locally and passing on the benefits of those increases through tax cuts. I live in Spain (Sotogrande) and therefore will not suffer the pinch on these increases. I earn in excess of £35,000 and therefore the more I save in tax the more I can spend in Spain.

  24. please, please, please RVLW a blog dedicated to this "wonderful" budget que se me saltan las lagrimas!

  25. Blog on the budget under construction ... give me a chance people!

  26. Hi All:

    I have removed a post that, amongst others, made the point that the writer thought that I was "untouchable" beccause I am a first cousin of the CM and a partner in the firm of Triay & Triay in which the CM was a partner, the CM's father-in-law and brother's-in-law and Freddie Vasquez QC my cousin and that of the CM also are all partners. The comment went on to speculate that the CM may return to this firm.

    It also speculated about other matters that were or were verging on defamation of me (which I did not really worry about) but also of my partners, whilst I can condone comments defamatory or possibly defamatory of me, I do not have the authority to act in the same way on behalf of my partners.

    Aside from the final speculation all the other points are factual and undeniable. I do not know whether this makes me untouchable that is for others to decide.

    The reason I removed the comment is because it was resulting in more specilative, outrageous and defamatory comments being made, which comments I had to reject. I considered it wrong to reject the others and leave the one comment that was provoking the debate.

    I do not think this is a breach of freedom of speech. Facts are facts, speculation and opinion based on those facts remain just that.

  27. Fine, LWRV, but I am a layman, not a lawyer, and do not see why expressing an opinion, or reporting what is often heard around town can be construed as being defamatory. It is commonly known or said that Bossano favoured Hassans, Isolas and Charles Gomez & Co while in office and tried to destroy Triay & Triay, whereas Caruana allegedly redressed the balance by favouring, at least during his initial terms, Triay & Triay, although more recently he seems to be leaning more towards TSN. It is strongly rumoured that he is now more likely to join TSN than T&T when he loses next year's election. Keith Azopardi was also accused of allegedly favouring Attias & Levy whilst in office. If we are not allowed to even mention the above allegations that have been doing the rounds for years then there is no freedom of speech in Gibraltar - not even in Llanito World. It is only normal human nature for lawyers to be more closely associated with the firms that they have worked for. I suppose what we really need is a formal tender process for all Government legal work but now that the tender process for building works has been abolished I think it is far more likely for pigs to fly than for a tender process for legal work to be implemented.

  28. Charles Gomez.4 July 2010 at 21:26

    Although I cannot speak for the other firms mentioned, I have to say for the record that any legal work passed on to my firm during Joe Bossano's tenure of office was allocated to us by the independent Attorney General's Chambers of the day and not Mr. Bossano or any of his ministers. At that time Peter Caruana was also assigned a number of briefs so I do not think that it is right to say that we were favoured by the GSLP any more than they favoured Mr. Caruana. For all that, if what Fabio says about the situation under the GSD is correct (and I would rather not comment), then I am sure that the Minister of Justice will deal with the matter in his usual fair and efficient manner. Now that you mention it Fabio, it is true that we have not received a solitary instruction from the Government or any of its departments or agencies since the day when Mr. Caruana became CM in 1996 but we have preferred not to worry too much about that and we are certainly not bitter.