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Gib chief to defy Spain with Madrid speech

Fiona Govan · 2 Feb 2015, 18:50

Published: 02 Feb 2015 18:50 GMT+01:00

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Last month, Spain´s foreign minister sparked a diplomatic row when it emerged he had called off an event at which Gibraltar´s Chief Minister was invited to speak.

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo had been due to participate in a debate at the New Economic Forum but José Manuel García-Margallo, the foreign minister, reportedly pressurized organisers to cancel the event.

It emerged that he had personally telephoned the director of the Forum to express his displeasure at the invitation of Gibraltar´s leader, a conversation which led to the event being cancelled.

But instead of being silenced, Mr Picardo has arranged to give the same address after the government of Gibraltar organized their own event at Madrid´s Palace Hotel.

“The Chief Minister has decided to go ahead anyway and will make his speech at the same time on the same day as he had planned to with the New Economic Forum. The difference is that the Government of Gibraltar has now arranged the event,” a Gibraltar government source told The Local.

“Mr Picardo will be sending out a message of dialogue and will maintain Gibraltar´s position with regards to dialogue and cooperation with Spain,” he said.

The source told The Local that the Gibraltar government had found it surprising that at a time when the rest of Europe was talking about freedom of speech in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Spain´s government sent a different message.

“Considering all that was going on at the time, it was a decision that was difficult to understand. But it is typical of Spain´s current government to resist any dialogue with Gibraltar,” he said.

Story continues below…

A spokesman for Britain´s Foreign and Commonwealth Office had said of the snub: “We regret the fact that the chief minister will not be speaking at the New Economic Forum on 3 February. As an elected head of Gibraltar and an EU citizen, his views should be heard.”


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Fiona Govan (fiona.govan@thelocal.com)

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