Embassy Row: Gibralter seeks rock-solid backing from U.S.

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The head of the government of Gibraltar is urging the U.S. to take sides with the British territory in its latest dispute with Spain, which demands sovereignty over the promontory that it claims is an illegal colony.

Fabian Picardo told reporters in Washington this week that the Obama administration must help resolve the diplomatic spat because the United States always supports “the rights of people to determine their own future.”

“It can’t stand for anything else,” said Mr. Picardo, chief minister of the 2.6 square-mile territory crowned by the iconic Rock of Gibraltar at the Atlantic gateway to the Mediterranean Sea.

The squabble simmered throughout the summer, as Spain increased border checks and created long delays for Gibraltar residents and Spanish citizens working in the U.K. territory.

It boiled over two weeks ago at the U.N. General Assembly when Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy complained that Britain is ignoring U.N. calls dating to the 1960s for imperial nations to free their colonies.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo has said bluntly, “Gibraltar is Spanish.”

However, Gibraltar is widely recognized as a British territory, not a colony, and Gibraltar residents overwhelmingly want to remain subjects of the United Kingdom. Britain insists that the territory’s future is a matter for Gibraltar residents to decide.

“In Gibraltar, we value our link with the United Kingdom,” Mr. Picardo told reporters at the National Press Club.

He noted that ties to Britain date back 300 years to the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, which helped end the War of Spanish Succession. In the treaty, Britain was awarded sovereignty over Gibraltar.

PAKISTAN’S NEW ENVOY

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharifdefied rumors and appointed a professional diplomat to serve as the country’s ambassador to the United States.

Mr. Sharif tapped Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani, the third-most senior official in Pakistan’s foreign service, earlier this week. Diplomatic circles in Islamabad were abuzz with rumors that Mr. Sharif was considering appointing Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who recently announced his retirement as army chief of staff.

A former Pakistani ambassador to the United States said such a choice would have damaged Pakistan’s path toward a stable democracy.

“If Pakistan is to evolve into a full democracy with full civilian control over the military, it does not make sense to appoint a recently retired general as Pakistan’s face in the world most important capital,” Husain Haqqani told Embassy Row this week.

Mr. Haqqani, ambassador from 2008 to 2011, arrived in Washington after the resignation of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who ousted Mr. Sharif in a military coup in 1999 during an earlier term as prime minister. Mr. Sharif was elected in May to a third term.

Mr. Haqqani is now director at Boston University’s Center for International Relations.

ATMOSPHERE OF INTIMIDATION

The State Department this week accused Russia of creating an “atmosphere of intimidation” for journalists seeking to uncover corruption under President Vladimir Putin.

Deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf leveled her criticism at the Kremlin on the anniversary of the assassination of muckraking journalist Anna Politkovskaya, killed Oct. 7, 2006, in Moscow.

Russia convicted a former police officer and five other defendants are on trial for her murder. But authorities still have not found the mastermind who “ordered this terrible crime,” she said.

Embassy Row is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. James Morrison can be reached at jmorrison@washingtontimes.com or @EmbassyRow.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
James Morrison

James Morrison

James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...

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