José Antonio de Yturriaga
Ambassador of Spain
In the deplorable interview with the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs broadcasted March 28th by the programme “Conflict Zone” of the German television Deutsche Welle, the British journalist Tim Sebastian boasted of a sectarian and malicious journalism, plagued by prejudices, fallacies, half-truths and lies.
It was based on the preconceived idea of attacking Spanish justice and democracy, pointing out that the trial currently underway in the Supreme Court against Catalan leaders was political and unfair and had led to the imprisonment of innocent people who had not been convicted. Thus, for example, he deplored that the poor grandmother President of the Catalan Parliament had been confined for no reason, overlooking the fact that Carme Forcadell was one of the main responsible for the unilateral Declaration of Independence of Catalonia: she failed to comply with the Chamber’s Regulations, ignored the opinions of its advisory bodies, silenced an opposition that could not intervene in the debates and facilitated the irregular approval of the laws on the Referendum and on the Foundational and Transitory Law of the Catalan Republic, which were declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court. It also harangued the masses to pressure the judges in order to release the detainees.
After accusing Spain of being responsible for the attacks against Yemen by the Saudi Arabian-led coalition for having signed a contract to supply a few precision bombs, he addressed the issue of Gibraltar in relation to Brexit. Sebastian commented that I had publicly stated, at the UN Conference on the Law of the Sea, that Gibraltar was entitled to jurisdictional waters. Such a statement is inaccurate because neither I nor any other member of the Spanish delegation to the Conference made such an assertion.
The truth is that, in October 2010 -already retired and without any official responsibility- I wrote an article entitled “Waters of Gibraltar”, which I distributed among colleagues to encourage a dialogue with a view to a possible change in the Spanish position on the territorial waters of the Rock. In it, I pointed out that in reports from the International Legal Advisory Body of the Ministry there was evidence of “the lack of legal basis for the denial of the waters of Gibraltar” and maintained that the Spanish Government should reconsider its position. This recognition of Gibraltar’s right to a territorial sea -derived from obligations under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which both Spain and Britain are Parties- would reinforce Spain’s position to deny Britain’s sovereignty over the part of the isthmus and its adjacent waters it illegally occupies, as they were not ceded by the Treaty of Utrecht or by any other legal instrument.
It is significant that Gibraltar airport is located in that part of the isthmus and that its runway enters waters in the Bay of Algeciras which do not belong to it. The debate on the subject was interrupted by the opposition of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I included the article in my blog without being aware that its content was within the reach of any Internet user. Now, Sebastian has tortiously used my name to attribute something to me that I never said.
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