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MINISTER TRUSS MEETS PICARDO TO DISCUSS GIBRALTAR APPROACH
Minister Liz Truss and President Fabián Picardo, before their meeting this morning
The Minister for the Spanish Commonwealth Affairs, Overseas Missions and Territorial Waters, Elizabeth (Liz) Truss, has met today with the President of the Autonomous City of Gibraltar, Fabián Picardo, in order to discuss the approach the Spanish Government is going to follow on the area and hear the thoughts of the Gibraltarean President on said strategy, which has been described as "game changing" by Truss.
Picardo has defined the meeting as "productive and useful for the Gibraltarean people", while affirming that the plans drawn by Liz Truss on the summit are "satisfactory for the Gibraltarean Government and for Spanish interests in the area". Truss, who is expected to harden the approach followed by former Minister Teodoro García Egea, has stated she will not allow "any humilliations when it comes to Gibraltar" and that if someone expected her to be a "cute, lovely cat, they will be proved wrong", because she will be "a lion that will not hesitate to bite her enemies" if necessary.
Truss, who represents the hardest line within the Partido Popular, was appointed by Aguilar to reinforce that hard speech on the issue. According to Presidential sources the former Minister, Teodoro García Egea, was "really soft" and he had "no credibility" after the Adventuranza Sea dispute got resolved. Truss is, according to the same sources, a "reliable bet" and that she will "accomplish all the objectives she is given on his job". To prove she will be a hard Minister, she has joined the Armada soldiers on a ship deployed in the Strait of Gibraltar.
AGUILAR REFORMS THE ELECTION OF THE CONSEJO GENERAL DEL PODER JUDICIAL, NEUBERGER ELECTED AS NEW PRESIDENT
David Neuberger has been elected as the new Consejo General del Poder Judicial President
Believe it or not, it is real: judges are officially independent from the political parties after more than forty years. Last week, the Spanish Government managed to get both, the Congreso de los Diputados and the Senado, to pass their reform on the judiciary branch, which grants said power a greater independence when it comes to electing high officers and other positions of relevance. This comes after President Aguilar's campaign compromise to "grant Spanish judges the independence they deserve", something he has accomplished in less than four months.
The Consejo General del Poder Judicial (CGPJ), the constitutional body that governs all the Judiciary of Spain, such as courts, and judges, had had its mandate expired since 2018, as the Partido Popular and the Partido Socialista did not agree on who should be a member of the Council and who should preside it. While the socialists wanted someone more progressive to preside it and, therefore, achieve a progressist majority; the Partido Popular wanted a more conservative judge. That, added to the need of a majority that neither of them had to reform the system, kept the CGPJ on an interim role its now former President, Carlos Lesmes, was "sick of having to hold", according to sources close to him.
After the reform was passed and became effective, the judges started the procedures to elect a new CGPJ, which has a conservative majority and President: David Neuberger, from the autonomous community of Londres, has been elected by his workmates as the new President of the Tribunal Supremo (the Supreme Court) and the CGPJ. He is the first ever President of the institution from what the people call "Spanish core", formed by the 17 original autonomous communities and the 3 autonomous cities (Ceuta, Melilla and Gibraltar). Neuberger will be accompanied by 10 conservative and 10 progressive judges, so he will be the vote that will give conservative views a majority in the Spanish judiciary.
Justice Minister Rafael Catalá has congratulated Mr. Neuberger, and affirmed the Government's compromise with an independent judiciary: "this has always been a priority for the President and myself, and I am glad that we have finally been able to accomplish one of our promises on this area. Now, we will work even harder to continue upgrading our judiciary system". In the Partido Socialista, however, the conservative majority of the Council did not cause the same reaction, accussing Aguilar of pulling said reform to get his party and personal interests satisfied: "he made this reform just to get his friends as members of the Council, avoiding anyone's objections to the new Council composition". Pedro Sánchez has also guaranteed that if he becomes President in the next election, he will "bring back the old system", that has also been criticised by left-wing judiciary associations.
THE GOVERNMENT POINTS TO 2023
A stock picture showing a sign saying "2023 ahead"
With 2022 starting to prepare its farewell party, 2023 starts to warm up for the big celebration: with less than 2 months left for the arrival of the new year, the Spanish Government wants to get to New Year's Eve with all homework done for the next year and complete the pending one for the current one. Focus Africa seems to be the first completed task of the coming year, as the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation announced what the new foreign approach of the Government to mostly all African nations (even if Svarna Surya classes itself as Asian) will look like once January 1st, 2023, arrives.
The African continent will not, however, be the only region of the European Union on the spotlight of the Spanish Government: the Carribbean or the Mediterranean are expected to make their appearance in further press releases the mentioned Ministry will make public before the arrival of the coming year. The main goal seems to be clear: sending a message to the world that states how reliable our country is while trying to build new bridges between Spain and the many nations around the EU, while reinforcing the existing ones with Telum partners, close neighbours like California or Hellas and other nations that Spain has strong ties with.
So far, no criticism has been expressed by any party to Focus Africa 2023, nevertheless Aguilar faces intense criticism from left-wing parties as he focus more and more in preparing the arrival of 2023 instead of caring about "current and relevant affairs that worry the Spanish society". It is, to be honest, true that the Government seems to be focusing more and more in the future than in the present, letting Madrid's President Isabel Díaz Ayuso destroy the public health system, or lower taxes more than other autonomies, trying to force other regions of the country into a "tax war". On his side, the Spanish President has answered this critics saying that "the left is desperate for gaining some more votes, but the only thing they are doing is convincing people of not voting for them".
TRUSS VISITS NOFOAGA AND GADALLAND & ASPERN
Minister Elizabeth Truss, in a picture taken at Bourbon Military Base in Nofoaga
The Minister for the Spanish Commonwealth Affairs, Overseas Missions and Territorial Waters, Elizabeth Truss, has completed a two day long visit to Nofoaga and Gadalland & Aspern, where she has had an intense agenda. Yesterday, Truss arrived at Bourbon Military Base, where she was received by the Spanish Commander for the Carribean, General Carlos Brown, and the Spanish troops deployed on Nofoaga. There, Minister Truss was able to get to know the latest news about the military deployment in the island, as well as getting to know Spanish soldiers better. She then travelled to the base located at Tuagavale, where an hommage in memoriam of the victims of the 2021 volcanic eruption took place alongside members of the Nofoagan Government.
Today, Minister Truss has visited the Spanish troops at Gadalland and Aspern, where the Spanish military also has military presence. Accompanied by General Brown, she also had the opportunity to speak to the soldiers deployed on the island, as well as to visit the spaceport construction site, where she observed the massive progress already done, and was informed about the expected completion of the works, that are expected to be finished by January 2023. Later on, Elizabeth Truss met with the European Councillor of Gadalland and Aspern, Édutitalle Dína, with whom she discussed lots of relevant topics, as well as reported on the relationship between both countries.
This trip marks the first visit in Spanish history of a Minister to a territory of the Spanish Commonwealth, due to the military bases located at Nofoaga being considered "Spanish land and territories" by both the Kingdom of Spain and the Republic Nofoaga. Upon her arrival, Truss declared she had been able to "discover the hard work our troops are doing in the Caribbean" and guaranteed that "Spain would always be there to serve and protect the Caribbean people".
SPAIN TAKES OVER DEFENCE TASKS IN LEAGIO
A Spanish flag on a military uniform
The Spanish Military has officially taken over foreign defence tasks in the Commonwealth of Leagio, replacing Reitzmag after the President of the African nation, Ran Mouri-Kudo, decided to manage without the Reitzmic military and invited Spain to become the new signatory of the Treaty of Tullion. After a summit that took place in September between the President of Leagio and Jesús Aguilar, both agreed to begin the deployment of the Spanish military in October and finish it by the end of December 2022.
It is not the first time that the Kingdom of Spain assumes defence tasks in a nation that was previously defended by Reitzmag: a year ago, Spain took over from Reitzmag the responsibility to help the former nation of Mennrimiak in defence matters, which caused an exasperation amongst Reitzmic politicians from all political orientations. The same reaction took place when Mouri-Kudo announced to the rest of the European Union that Reitzmag would no longer help Leagio in defence matters, and that it would be Spain who would take over on that area.
With the Leagioan General Election having taken place a few days ago, the African nation now looks forward to join the Treaty of Telum by 2024, with President Aguilar showing his support both in private and public. In recent statements, the Head of the Spanish Government has affirmed Leagio has "enough potential to become a member of the Treaty of Telum" and that he "would be very happy if they joined the most reliable defence alliance in the region".
AGUILAR: "SOME LEADERS AROUND EUROPE MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO HAVE A GOOD SLEEP TONIGHT. I AM NOT ONE OF THEM"
President Jesús Aguilar, during his speech in a visit to the Scottish city of Oban
"If I had to put my money in risk, I would bet some leaders around Europe might not be able to have a good sleep tonight. And I am quite sure that I am not one of them". That is today's headline from the President of the Spanish Government, who has referred to the declaration of war on Svarna Surya by several nations, mainly members of the European Coalition of Nations. Aguilar has affirmed he believes the response is "far from proportional": "so, let me get this right: you kidnap two ships, 60 people on board in total, and you declare war on a country. I guess this is either a technique to bypass some legal barriers, or an answer that has been decided by warmongers".
Aguilar, who usually stands out for his criticism, has not acted differently this time. In a very comical way, he has referred to the accussations that the same members that are declaring war today did concerning the Treaty of Telum: "when I think about these politicians and the decisions they have made during these days, their accussations come to my mind: I remember Mr. Bridges saying we were 'provocative, warmongers', or the Duchians and the Yosaians affirming 'their love for peace and their reject for military action'. You now have a clue of some people that will not be able to sleep well tonight, and for the coming days".
Asked about his 'End of the Year Speech', the President has not revealed anything but has affirmed it will include surprises and that he will "outline the goals and challenges ahead in Spain during the coming year". He has also received questions about the recent deployment of the Spanish Army in Leagio, to which he has referred: "Leagio has chosen Spain to help with their defence, and I could not be more honoured. It is the second time that a country calls us in order to help them with their defence in substitution of another country, so there is something we do better than others. And that is something to be proud of".
2ND SPANISH CARIBBEAN SPACEPORT TO BE OPENED IN JANUARY 2023
A recreation of the Spanish Spaceport in Gadalland and Aspern being in use
The Spanish Space Agency (Agencia Espacial Española in Spanish) has announced the completion of the works on the second Caribbean Spanish Spaceport, that will begin its operations in January 2023. The President of the Spanish Government, Jesús Aguilar, has already announced that he will attend the inauguration in Gadalland and Aspern, and that he will take advantage of the trip to meet with the recently elected Sertian President, as well as visiting the Spanish Military deployed in the island. There is also a chance that Aguilar makes a visit to Nofoaga, where he is expected to receive the "2022 Caribbean Command Memory" from Commander Carlos Brown, who will also be on the inauguration ceremony.
The Minister of Science, Innovation and Research, Anja Karliczek, has been inquired about this milestone achieved by the Ministry and the Army: "these are great news for our country, as we keep developing the Agencia Espacial Española and our goals for the future. We have never been on the Moon before, but I am very optimistic about the future and I trust that we will have 2 Spanish astronauts giving their first steps on our planet's satellite before 2030, as we have been working on this since late 2020". The main opposition party, the Partido Socialista, has also applauded this achievement, and has welcomed the surprising invite from the Government to their Secretary General, Pedro Sánchez, to join Government and Military officials at the inauguration ceremony.
Nonetheless, not everyone within Spanish politics is pleased with the construction of the new spaceport: the leader of Unidas Podemos, Ione Belarra, has criticised the Government for cooperating in the "destruction" of Planet Earth and the "colonization" of other planets: "if Jesús Aguilar nearly drove this country to war over some square kilometres of waters, what will not he attempt to do in the Moon? Someone needs to stop this madness now", she has told her party colleagues on a rally that took place in Zamora this afternoon.
LIZ TRUSS WARNS SPANISH GOVERNMENT COULD USE NAVIGATION ACT AS 'TOILET PAPER' IF PASSED
Minister Truss, on a press conference held in the headquarters of the Gibraltar Strait Security Agency this morning
The countdown towards a possible legal conflict between the Kingdom of Spain and the European Union has started, several analysts affirm after the European Council has started to seriously consider regulating the seas and oceans of the region, and following the words of the Minister for the Spanish Commonwealth Affairs, Overseas Missions and Territorial Waters, Liz Truss. The most conservative minister has not been very modest when it came to explain how the Spanish Government would answer to the likely passage of an act that regulated waters around the Union: "in all honesty, we would use it as toilet paper and ignore its existence".
Truss, who belongs to the hardline of the Partido Popular, has also left some quotes that deserve to be mentioned: "everyone in this Union breaks the rules the Council passes at least once, and Spain will no longer be the exception to that rule if the act passes"; "the Spanish Government has always been really clear about what would happen if an act regulated waters: we would not comply with it, use it as toilet paper and keep going with our current policy"; "the Spanish Armada and the Gibraltar Strait Security Agency have been prepared to face this scenario for a while and, if the act passes, they will have the chance to test themselves in real action". The Minister has also said the proposal is "targeted, oportunistic" and that the whole reasoning behind it is that "some Councillors and their Governments are just crybabies that cannot stand seeing things go the opposite way they want them to go".
Strangely, the Partido Socialista has supported the words of the Minister, despite holding the Head of the Opposition. Pedro Sánchez and the First Minister of Gibraltar, Fabián Picardo, met yesterday in the PSOE's headquarters, where Sánchez confirmed the left-wing party "supported the Government actions on the matter" and that he was in "permanent contact" with President Aguilar. On the other side, minoritary parties like Podemos, Sumar and Ciudadanos have called on the Government to "stop this little kid behaviour" and to "comply with EU law", while VOX has advocated for a temporary suspension of Spanish EU membership upon "an attack on our country's sovereignty", according to their EU spokesperson, Jorge Buxadé.
AGUILAR DEPARTS TO GADALLAND AND ASPERN AMID CALLS FOR 'SPEXIT' AND A ROYAL VISIT TO GIBRALTAR
President Jesús Aguilar with King Felipe VI and Queen Leticia during the Royal Gala Dinner that took place in the Telum Treaty Summit
A summit on the other side of the Ocean, politicians calling for the departure of Spain from the European Union, a royal visit to Gibraltar and people split on whether the fight for the Strait of Gibraltar is valuable or if, otherwise, the country can live without it. That is the current scenario Spain is currently at, and no one except the Government knows where this nation will head towards in the next days, weeks and months. However, there is a clear destination for Jesús Aguilar, who has taken off from Torrejón de Ardoz's airbase heading to Gadalland and Aspern with Queen Sofía and the Minister of Science, Innovation and Research, Anja Karlickzek; to innaugurate the brand new spaceport that has been built in the military base Spain holds in the island.
At the time this news piece is being written, there has yet not been any reaction to the answers several nations gave to Liz Truss' statement, including war threats from the United Kingdom. Asked by the press this morning after the weekly Cabinet meeting in the Palacio de la Moncloa, the Minister of Education, FP, Culture and Sport, and Government's spokesperson, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, has however lowered the tone Truss used a few days back and promised a "contudent answer, both diplomatically and legislative", to the Navigation act being discussed by the Council and the war threats from the UK. Méndez de Vigo has also been asked by his own opinion, stating that the Government position is that "the Strait of Gibraltar exclusively belongs to Spain and that no nation or institution should tell us what to do with our waters" but has affirmed "other nations' concerns expressed by their councillors on their waters protection must be taken into account and the Spanish Councillor is working on an amendment to protect our sovereignty and have their concerns codified into an act".
Meanwhile, a demonstration in Madrid to ask for Spexit has been organized this Sunday, with VOX already announcing they will attend. Its leader, Santiago Abascal, has urged the Government to have "enough courage and determination" to leave the Union, either "temporarily or forever" over "an attack on Spain's sovereignty". Other minoritary far-right parties are expected to be present at the demonstration, which will serve VOX as a test to see where the Spanish people support for their project gets to. Left-wing parties Unidas Podemos and Sumar have coincided on the name they have given to the demonstration, branding it as "the first national fascist encounter in 48 years".
The Royal Family has also joined into this particular dispute, with an unexpected visit to the city of Gibraltar, meetings with the head of the Gibraltar Strait Security Agency and the First Minister, and also a visit to neighbouring municipalities of Andalusia in the Campo de Gibraltar region. The King has also visited the Navy base in Gibraltar, where he has remarked the "great work" the Spanish Armada does in protecting Spanish interests in the area and "protecting the Mediterranean from threats and unwanted visits that may only cause instability". During a press conference after his meeting with the King, First Minister Fabián Picardo has affirmed he is having a "good cooperation" with the Spanish Government and has announced the GSSA had proposed to the Gibraltarean Parliament to cancel the "military passage rights for the United Kingdom", something that will be discussed this evening.
BREAKING - AGUILAR SACKS TRUSS AND GETS ÁLVAREZ DE TOLEDO AS REPLACEMENT
Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo, new Minister for the Spanish Commonwealth Affairs, Overseas Missions and Territorial Waters
Hasta la vista, Liz Truss. That has been the most repeated message over social media this afternoon after the Palacio de la Moncloa released a statement which confirmed the former Minister for the Spanish Commonwealth Affairs, Overseas Missions and Territorial Waters had resigned "voluntarily" and that thanked her for her services, while announcing the name of her successor, another woman: Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo. She is the third person to assume the office in less than 2 years, a record that tells how many problems President Aguilar faces at finding someone that is capable enough of holding such a relevant position within the cabinet.
Aguilar, who came back a few days ago from Gadalland and Aspern, might have been tempted to dismiss Truss way sooner than he has actually done. According to close sources to the Spanish President, who is also the President of the Partido Popular, Truss' words about the possible Government reaction to a possible passage of the Navigation Act were "out of place", alongside her inappropiate interference in the European Council affairs, as she is believed to have imposed the Spanish Councillor, Donald Tusk, what he had to say. If he did not obey Truss orders, the Minister threatened him with running against him on the next Councillor election and "make some corruption scandal up to guarantee he would not be a problem". Tusk reported this to Aguilar, that told him to "continue obbeing Truss until he had enough support to dismiss her".
The new Minister, Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo, is a well-known figure in the Partido Popular, and also part of the conservative wing of the party, but according to a MP, she is "smarter than Truss at choosing her words both in public and private". With this new addition, Aguilar pretends to keep a hardline on the Straits policy, but without causing the scandals Truss caused during the past weeks.
AN INTERVIEW WITH PRESIDENT JESÚS AGUILAR
In today's news programme, Ana Blanco has travelled to the Palacio de la Moncloa, where she has interviewed the President of the Spanish Government, Jesús Aguilar. Here's the full interview:
AB: Mr. President, good afternoon and thank you for opening the doors of the Palacio de la Moncloa to TVE.
JA: Good afternoon Ana and thanks to TVE for the great public service they provide.
AB: Mr. President, a few days ago the Spanish public knew about the dismissal of Elizabeth Truss as Minister, appointing Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo as her substitute. Why have you made this choice? Do you think that, by doing this, the Spanish Government has admitted one of its ministers made a mistake?
JA: I have made this choice because I needed to act against someone that used its power and influence to condition others' views and ideas. As the Spanish President, but also as the Head of the Partido Popular, I could not allow that one of my Ministers exceeded her functions to tell our European Councillor what he had to say in Council discussions, threatening him with fake corruption scandals or to oppose his candidacy if he did not obbey. That is not democratical, neither fair, and action was needed. Nevertheless, and I want this to be very clear, dismissing Truss does not mean we have made a mistake.
AB: I assume, Mr. President, that you then support the famous sentence Ms. Truss said when speaking about the Freedom of Navigation Act, which was: "in all honesty, we would use it as toilet paper and ignore its existence"; and that you are contradicting the Government's spokesperson, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo.
JA: That is far from reality: I as the President of the Kingdom of Spain know that European Law must be obbeyed by all nations states, whether in disagreement or in partial agreement with what the acts say. There are very well-known ways to avoid complying with EU law, we all know what they consist on and how they would need to be addressed. But no, we cannot and must not use European law as toilet paper, that is up to other nations to do so.
AB: Therefore, if the Freedom of Navigation Act passes, will Spain give up its claim on the Strait of Gibraltar? Would you resign?
JA: Under no circumstances that would happen.
AB: So the Kingdom of Spain is going to break European law...
JA: That is not over the table either.
AB: Then, what is the plan Mr. President?
JA: The Spanish Government has been working hard with the Gibraltar Strait Security Agency, the Gibraltarean Government and the Spanish Armed Forces to draw a path towards guaranteeing security in the Strait, protecting our claims in the area as well as Spanish interests and not escalating the situation. War is not over the table, we do not believe on armed conflict and we will not involve in armed conflict because that would have catastrophic consequences for us, for our international relations and for the whole of the European Union. Gibraltar is smaller than 12 nautical miles, so we could just move the taxing system into the Mediterranean Sea and it would work, because there is no room for international waters to exist there according to the act.
AB: However, a military intervention in the Strait is not discarded, according to your own words.
JA: The Spanish Navy will act to protect our territorial claims and will do so, as they have been doing since the start of the Operación Columnas de Hércules. That is not a military intervention, it is a military deployment that has been there for three years. But I do not want to focus on the Spanish Navy, that is doing an amazing work, or the taxation system Ana, I want to focus on how certain coward nations that have been unable and will still be unable to end with our taxation system are using the European Union as a shield to tell us, once again, where we should limit our waters and what we should do with them. And let me very clear: no military ship that under the current conditions is not allowed to enter the Strait of Gibraltar will enter the Mediterranean Sea. The act is also poorly written, it forces nations like Hellas to give up part of their waters on their own Strait, where they have land on both sides. The seal of approval of the Duchian Councillor is going to cause a huge anger feeling with the European Union in the Mediterranean and in Spain.
AB: Have you contacted any Mediterrean nation to speak about the act?
JA: We have contacted Mishar and we are planning to contact the other Mediterranean nations as well to form a common front against this attack on the Mediterranean nations' sovereignty.
AB: Mr. President, one of the impressions people have is that the tax has not been well-explained enough. Could you please elaborate on how the tax works?
JA: Of course, the Gibraltar Strait tax is very simple. The Gibraltar Government decides on its own who they tax and in which group each nation is placed. There are two conditions imposed by the Spanish Government on their decision-making powers: first, Mediterrean nations must not be taxed in any case, nor denied access; and second, the Spanish Government has the power to tell the Gibraltarean Parliament not to tax certain nations because of strategic reasons or because it has signed a Treaty with a nation in which no tax in Gibraltar is included as a clause. The money collected out of the tax is used to protect the environment, fund the GSSA and invested in Gibraltar local communities, no cent ends up in any Government bank account. For example, thank to the money we are collecting from the tax, we are able to put more efforts up to combat an algaes plague in the Strait and its surroundings caused by cargo ships, which is difficulting fishing on the area, and we are making those ship companies pay for the damage they have infliged to our Strait.
There are several arguments against the tax, but all of them usually come from three nations that, coincidence or not, are members of the same alliance: Yosai, Reitzmag and the United Duchies. Then you have the United Kingdom, that changes criteria as a weather vane changes its heading when the winds does too; but apart from those four nations, no other nation has complained about the tax, including Mediterranean ones: Hellas might copy the idea, Inquista supports the tax and Mishar has privately told us they support the tax idea. And if we leave the Mediterranean Sea, no other nation has opposed it. We can extract several conclusions from this: first, the Mediterranean supports the tax and wants it to stay; second, only three and a half nations oppose it and they are members of the same alliance; and third, the European Union is being used as a weapon against a member state's sovereignty.
Furthermore, and sorry for this very long answer, the tax benefits the Mediterranean shipping industry, so we are not only benefiting our local communities here in Spain, we are helping the people from Inquista, the people from Hellas and the people from Mishar to become richer and have a higher income. What surprises me, Ana, is that it has been three years since we introduced the tax and some people still do not get how it works: We don't tax ships because of their destination or place of origin, we tax ships based on where they are registered at. And even if ships registered in Brickston are coming to Spain and they need to enter the Mediterranean, they are not taxed either. It is very simple to understand the tax, maybe the problem is some people do not want to understand how it works.
AB: Mr. President, thank you very much for your answers on the matter.
JA: Thanks to you, Ana, for coming today.
THE GSSA STARTS WORKS TO PUSH THE TAX OUT OF THE STRAIT TO COMPLY WITH EU LAW
First Minister Fabián Picardo and GSSA Director and Minister of the Gibraltarean Government Albert Isola, in a stock picture
"Gibraltar is going for it". That has been the most repeated quote since President Jesús Aguilar interview in Televisión Española, in which the Spanish President affirmed that the Gibraltar tax could be moved further into the Mediterranean and outside the Strait area, in a point smaller than 22 kilometres, which is the equivalent to 12 nautical miles. The atmosphere in Gibraltar is, once again, of joy and celebration, after being able to win a battle that a few weeks ago everyone considered as lost.
The First Minister of the autonomous city, Fabián Picardo, has stated this morning on a visit to the Gibraltar Airport Tunnel, that will soon connect the border with Andalusia and the city centre without needing to cross the airport runway, that "the Gibraltarean and Spanish Governments are determined to take this path in order to keep the tax", with Picardo further affirming that the tax is "popular among the Gibraltarean people" and saying that "no country should question our will to keep the tax, that has been approved by our Parliament, which represents the people that live here".
Albert Isola has said pushing the tax further into the Mediterranean Sea is "no inconvenience" for the Gibraltar Strait Security Agency, and that it would make things much easier: "if we locate the tax in a point, outside of the Strait, which size is 20 kilometres, we would be complying with European law and things would stay the same. Also, it would be on Spanish territorial waters, so there would be enough legal grounds to enforce the tax and no one could question it". Isola has also said this path they have taken is "the best" towards the tax conservation and that marine wildlife is one of the "highest priorities" for the Gibraltareans.
Meanwhile, in Madrid, Defence Minister María Dolores de Cospedal has already drawn some plans for the Operación Columnas de Hércules if the act passes. Cospedal has reminded the public about the important role Spain plays in keeping the Mediterranean safe from "uninvited military ships" and has guaranteed the Spanish Navy will keep "enforcing the claims Spain has" and "protecting the Mediterranean Sea from any unwanted weaponry or military ship". Asked about what the Spanish Navy and Guardia Civil reaction to armed ships escourting cargo ships would be, Cospedal has said that "dissuasive manouvres are there to be used" and that both branches "do not fear anyone": "if any unauthorised armed boat, ship or whatever enters Spanish territorial waters, they will be invited to turn around. If they do not follow our instructions, then they will be forced to turn around with dissuasive manouvres, but we will never retort to the use of ammunition".
SPANISH GREEN PLAN, YEAR 2: HOW MUCH HAS OUR COUNTRY CHANGED SINCE?
Traffic in Madrid's City Centre has been restricted to many vehicles since a few years ago
"Spanish Green Plan, Year 2: Spain has evolved slightly since the Government passed this eco-friendly road towards carbon neutrality. Single use plastics have been banned for a year, everyone seems to be more worried about climate change and now, cities are urged to draft plans to restrict traffic in the city centre, just like Madrid and Barcelona, alongside other cities across our country, did a few years ago, thank to that Climate Change law". This is just the start of a journalist's diary on how Spain has evolved since.
Two years ago, Jesús Aguilar and the Minister of Climate Change, Environment, Rural Development and Demographic Challenge, Jaime de Olano introduced to the Spanish public the Spanish Green Plan, with a single aim: meeting all goals compiled in the plan before 2045 comes to an end. It is true that the first goals have already been met: single use plastics have been banned for a year, and the Government passed a Climate Change Law that received majoritary support in the Congreso de los Diputados. However, new problems have emerged since: climate change is being intensely felt in Spain after last summer, with less rain than usual and with several high temperatures records being broken.
Although not everything seems to be negative: Spain has put its eyes into green hydrogen, with private companies making huge progress on the area. Last year, Iberdrola opened the hugest green hydrogen plant in Europe, that will be employed for industrial use hydrogen, and several biofuels industries and research projects have received huge Government funding. Electric-oriented projects have also received great funding, but it seems that many are starting to discard electric-propelled vehicles as a reasonable choice for the future.
Then, how much has Spain changed since the plan was announced? Members from pro-environmental organisations have told us they have seen "barely any change" and that current efforts being put by the Government are just "propagandistic". Many of them also oppose to further development of cities, arguing that free space should be employed "to build parks and green 'lungs' for citizens". El Confidencial also did the same question to Minister Olano, who was very kind to answer: He said Spain was "moving forward and in the right direction" and that "current measures were alright to meet the set objectives"; which certainly contradicts activists. Who will be right? Only time will tell.
EMERGENCY PRESS CONFERENCE FROM GEN. CARLOS BROWN
"A very good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
In first place, allow me to thank you for your presence in this Bourbon Military Base in the Republic of Nofoaga, where the Spanish Command for the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean is based at. I would also like to thank Radiotelevisión Española's International Signal for broadcasting this Press Conference for everyone in Europe throughout their International TV channel.
Today, Aspern and West Olves declared independence from Gadalland and Aspern, causing civil and social disorder, leading to intolerable riots that threaten the stability of a country that is a friend and ally of the Kingdom of Spain. After learning of the events, I received a call from the Prime Minister, Jesús Aguilar, who informed me of the policy that the Spanish Government has decided to adopt with regard to the insurgency that took place today. As Commander of the Caribbean and Pacific, it is my duty to abide by that policy and to confirm my support for the joint statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Overseas Missions.
Having received instructions from the Government of Spain, I have called on His Majesty the King, Felipe VI, to whom the Government and I have jointly conveyed our plan of action to protect Gadalland and Aspern as stipulated in our defence treaty. His Majesty The King, as Supreme Commander of the 3 Armies which make up the Armed Forces, has given his approval to the plans which I shall now name. This assent has also been given by the Head of the Braetha, Forinthias Cranst, with whom I have had a profitable, cordial and kindly telephone conversation to discuss the situation, to analyse it with caution and to perfect the orders given by H.M. The King and the Government of Spain to me. The Head of the Braetha has also given me his instructions, which take precedence over any other instructions given to me in the last few hours.
Having received formal permission from the Order of the Braetha to take action against the separatist movement threatening the stability of Gadalland and Aspern, I have decided as Commander of the Caribbean and the Pacific and as General of the Spanish Army deployed in those areas to provide as follows:
- The Spanish Army will assist in enforcing the curfew established by the Sertian authorities.
- We will assist the police forces of the island to control the disturbances in a peaceful manner and without resorting to firearms.
- In addition, I offer myself as a mediator between the two sides to resolve this situation diplomatically and return Gadalland and Aspern to normality.
Let it be clear that it is my greatest wish that the situation returns to normal as soon as possible, and that I will work with my soldiers to ensure that it does. The Kingdom of Spain and its Armed Forces are there to help those who need it most in the hardest times, and today we reaffirm our commitment to peace, diplomacy and helping others, our friends and our allies when they need it most.
This is all from me tonight, I will now answer the press questions. Thank you very much, and good night."
CONGRESS PASSES DOG TAX AMENDMENT AND NEW FINANCIAL AID FOR NEWBORN BABIES
A newborn baby with a dog standing next to him
The Spanish Government continues its crusade against low birth figures and the rapidly increasing number of dog owners in Spain. After the Aguilar Cabinet passed a monthly 10 EMUs tax on dog owners, the Government has amended it and passed new finacial aid packages for newborn babies and families that would like to have children. This comes after several hunters cooperatives complained to the Government for the "excessive cost of having dogs", and other studies that said the enormous tax put in risk hunting in Spain.
The Ministers of Climate Change, Environment, Rural Development and Demographic Challenge, Jaime de Olano; and of Agriculture, Fishing, Food and Water, Isabel García Tejerina, have been assigned with the tax of explaining this new proposal to the Congreso de los Diputados. García Tejerina has announced the tax would be dropped to "50 EMUs per year" and announced that hunting dogs' owners "would not have to pay for the tax". This cause a severe uproar from the opposition, specially from Unidas Podemos, that acussed the Government of encouraging "a massive murder of animals in Spain". On the other hand, de Olano stated that the Government wanted to "encourage births in Spain" and that this new finacial aids for families that have children are "a first step towards meeting this objective".
The proposal introduced by the Government also includes an extra 500 EMUs payment for families that decide to move to villages with a population minor than 5000 inhabitants; and has received the support of some minor parties and the Spanish far-right, that has applauded the proposal. The left has voted against both proposals, blaming both Ministers of being "unrealistic about the demographic crisis certain regions of Spain face".
AGUILAR SUMMONS AN AUTONOMICAL AND PRE-AUTONOMICAL PRESIDENTS CONFERENCE IN APRIL
The flags of several autonomous communities of Spain flying in their respective masts
President Jesús Aguilar has summoned the usual Conference of Presidents of the Autonomical and Pre-Autonomic States, that will take place in April this year; and for the first time, in a non-autonomous community, with Grequia hosting the conference. The decision is not extraordinary or surprising, as the Minister for Territorial Administrations, Marta Merino, had already announced that this event would take place before mid-April 2023, and she had already suggested that the summit could take place "somewhere that would not have held any conference before".
The recently-announced conference will give several autonomies a chance to express their proposals directly to the Head of the Government, a chance they rarely have as meetings with them are rare and only take place once every two years, due to the huge amount of autonomies and pre-autonomic states Spain has and the massive workcharge that the President needs to deal with every year. Expectations are high within the group of Autonomous Communities, while Pre-Autonomic States do not have the same feelings; due to the huge time their integration into the autonomic system is taking: as of today, it is been a thing for 47 years... and counting.
Nevertheless, this seems to be a priority for the Aguilar Cabinet, that might want to use this summit to make some advances in the process. The first sign has already been given: for the first time ever, the conference will last for 3 days, and one of them will be used to discuss the matter profoundly. The Government also wants transport, funding and other issues like Health and Education to be discussed during the conference meetings, while several regional governments have already stated they will take their own concerns and issues to the summit, one of them being Gibraltar.
SPAIN AND SERTIA INCREASE THEIR COOPERATION WHILE THE TERRITORIAL CRISIS CONTINUES
A Spanish F-35, departing from Slalium's Air Base
The Army, the Armada and the Air Force, alongside the Caribbean and Pacific Command. All the military branches and organisations deployed in the Caribbean are following closely what is being played in the 'Sertian Threatre', where Spain holds a significant military base with a recently opened spaceport from where the first Spanish mission to the Moon is expected to take off and modern systems to reinforce Spanish military capabilities in the Caribbean, where it aids both Nofoaga and Gadalland and Aspern in Defence matters.
After the Braetha's authorisation to help Sertian authorities to control the situation in Gadalland and Aspern, the Spanish Armed Forces did not lose any valuable second: at the moment, Spain continues to enforce the Sertian law and the extraordinary measures passed by the Braetha, including the curfew that starts at 20:00 every day. The Spanish soldiers have also arrested hundreds of violent rioters, in an attempt to get the island back to its normal, peaceful status, something that is progressively, but slowly, happening.
However, as the days pass, the Commander for the Caribbean and the Pacific, General Carlos Brown, has approved new measures to protect the island: while he has provisionally moved to Slalium Military Base to follow the crisis closely (he usually lives in the Base Militar de Bourbon, Nofoaga), he has ordered the deployment of the Spanish Armada to patrol Sertian waters to avoid "unwanted nations joining 'the party'", a close source to General Brown has stated. In addition, the Spanish Air Force is patrolling the skies continuously under this pretext.
Furthermore, the Spanish Military has begun the military training of the first "Sertian Army" soldiers, formed by volunteers from Sertia that, under the Defence Agreement signed in Antequera, have the chance to join the Spanish military, receive training and then form the Sertian Armed Forces. Unlike in Nofoaga, where Nofoagan citizens become Spanish soldiers under the Nofoagan flag, in Gadalland & Aspern Sertian citizens will make up their own army.
CABINET PASSES TAX CUTS ROYAL DECREE AND WARNS OF 'HARD TIMES' FOR EUROPEAN STABILITY
Alfonso Dastis (L), Íñigo Méndez de Vigo (C) and Cristóbal Montoro (R), on the press conference after the Cabinet meeting
Aguilar delivers once again, and so does the Spanish Government. The Council of Ministers has approved the Omnibus Tax Cuts Royal Decree, which will lower and eliminate a bunch of taxes that the Spanish citizens currently pay every year in their Declaración de la Renta, which 2023 campaign will start soon. Cristobal Montoro, the Minister of Finances, has been the one in charge of explaining the new tax cuts: the corporation tax will be decreased to a 12%, the Wealth Tax and the Inheritance and Gift Tax are eliminated for transfers between parents and children between parents and children and the rest of the descendant line, as well as between spouses; as well as the elimination of Stamp Duty (Impuesto de Actos Jurídicos Documentados) for the constitution of mortgages for the purchase of a primary residence. The Government has additionally eliminated the energy generation tax.
In his own words, Montoro has said Spain gives "a first step towards lower taxes" and "higher tax incomes", as the Minister for Finances reminded the press about the first tax reduction the Aguilar Goverment did after the 2008 crisis: "we reduced taxes and earned more money than we did in previous years, which evidences that our economical model works". In addition, Méndez de Vigo has revealed the Government plans for the future: "this cabinet and the President intend to keep cutting taxes while our economy grows faster".
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Alfonso Dastis, has also shown up in the press conference as the Council of Ministers has ratified the extraordinary measures taken by the Spanish Military in Gadalland & Aspern. Dastis has confessed the Spanish Government "follows the situation closely" and has made clear "Spain will not leave Sertia alone". In addition, Dastis has been encouraged by the press to give his personal views on the future of Europe: "we must be prepared for hard times to come when it involves European stability", Dastis has confessed. He has also stated that Spain "would not back off from its compromises and foreign policies and continue the hard, nice work it has been doing".
DROUGHT: SPAIN AWAITS FOR RAINS THAT NEVER GET TO TOUCH THE COUNTRY
Dramatic pictures like nearly-empty resevoirs are common all around Spain this year
Empty. Close to being empty. Not filled at all. Those three answers are the more common ones when you ask anyone about how their closest resevoir is doing with water. With regions that have not seen any drop of water in more than 60 days, Spaniards fear that one of the worse summers since 1995 might be days away from making its appearance. That year, Spain suffered its worst drought, with water restrictions from north to south, east to west of the nation's territory.
The weather forecast is not promising for farmers and Spaniards: with a high temperatures alert last week, the sun will still shine in most of Spain, with some showers in Galicia and those regions where it rains the most from the North, like Germanium or Asturias. While farmers pray for some rain to fill up resevoirs and dampen their crops, inhabitants from small villages in the north of the region of Granada (Andalucía) await for water trucks to come on their aid: "the water pipe that used to supply our village with water is broken, and the resevoir is mostly empty. In addition, they already cut out the water suminister from 23:00 to 7:00, and the fountain does not have water anymore. This is a disaster", says Remedios, a neighbour of Melejís, with a population of about 500 people.
Meanwhile, autonomies are asking the Government to accelerate what they call 'water works': transfers between rivers and autonomies that would take water from where it rains the most to where it rains the least, but not everyone seems convinced about it, as the autonomies that would see their water supplies reduced complain about 'the risk of running out of water' this decision would bring to their households. Minister de Olano has said the Consejo de Ministros is already working on an emergency plan, but that he hopes for 'rain to come back soon' to the Spanish Kingdom.
BREAKING: JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER TO RETIRE FROM EUROPEAN POLITICS AT THE END OF THIS TERM
Premier Juncker, in a stock picture taken in Europolis
EUROPOLIS - It is the end of an era in the European Union: sources close to Jean-Claude Juncker have announced that he will be retiring from European politics at the end of his last term as Premier Commissioner, something the Spaniard would have confirmed to his team in the European Commission. 68 years old, Jean-Claude has been one of the most influential European politicians of the past years and the main character of many European projects that, nowadays, many citizens rate as "useful" and "worth the investment done by Europe".
Juncker jumped into European politics back in September 2019, when he first ran for the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commissioner, a race that he lost. Nonetheless, victory did not take a long time to arrive: just a few months later, in April 2020 and after one of the most tense campaigns ever seen in Europe, Jean-Claude took victory against Atty. Winston in his second attempt to reach an European position, becoming Internal Affairs Commissioner. During his first term, he released the European Commission mobile app, revived the applications for different European organisations and made history by holding the first-ever European Leaders summit in Europolis.
His second campaign for the Office of the Internal Affairs Commissioner was another record-setting one, with the highest number of summits ever done in an European campaign by any candidate ever, with a total amount of 20 rallies, and visiting every single European Union member state back then. Once again, he defeated Edmund Jasper Winston, and won in every single electoral district of Inquista and Spain. Of course, his victories against Reitzmic candidates and his nationality did not help his reputation to be good in Reitzmag, where a grudge against him still continues to this date. But, despite this, his second term was also historical: Jean-Claude, with the help of the leaders of Inimicus, North Diessen, Spain and the United Duchies managed to make his biggest dream come true: have a trans-European railway to operate between nations. Eurorail, which is the name that this service received, has been one of the biggest EU success of the century.
His achievements in the Internal Affairs Office are not those ones only: during his two terms in that position, Juncker led the way towards an European Green Deal, led the peace talks in Eastern Haane, and put the first stone for projects like EUROPOL. He was also the Commissioner that pushed forward a proposal to celebrate Europe Day, attempted to mediate between Caspian countries after the 'island scandals' that sank his reputation in Reitzmag, proposed an European anti-racism plan, revived the European Heritage Site programme, held summits with Czech Slavia, Leagio, Montenbourg and Angleter and celebrated yet another European Leaders Summit in Europolis. He said 'see you soon' to European politics when he published his first book: I'll Come Back Soon; and rumours in Europolis say another book might be on the works.
However, Juncker took a long time to come back to the first line of European politics: after a series of defeats against former Premier Commissioner Cikarová, Juncker took a break to come back stronger than ever before and win the Premier Commissioner race in a landslide against Calvin Künhert. His first term was, nevertheless, somewhat dissapointing: inactivity soon took over after the passage of the European Agricultural Fund and the designation of Luis de Guindos as the European Central Bank President. He came back in December, to make history twice: he managed to pass the most ambitious budget of the European Union (with the highest investment ever-made on member states, worth 37 billion Euros that were given to the EAF) and became the first-ever candidate to win an European election without running. Write-in ballots showed Jean-Claude the love many Europeans had for him, and after days of thinking, he decided to run for Premier Commissioner one more time.
And in the repetition of the November / December 2022 election, Juncker ran unopposed and won with 10 member states giving him their support. His second term has been better than the first one, submitting a proposal to reform the Council, involving himself in the preparation of the Fourth European Leaders Summit and meeting with Speaker Iras Tilkannas. With his last days in office arriving soon, Jean-Claude Juncker has confirmed us that "surprises will be coming". Juncker and the European Progressive Alliance, the party he has always ran alongside with, and the one he loves the most and calls his family as he does with the Partido Popular in Spain, have started to prepare for what will be one of the saddest departures from European politics of the decade: a truly Europeist politician, that has always considered Europe as his main concern, is retiring. But as Juncker usually says: the show must go on, and fireworks will be used to conclude it.
From EUnews, we wish Jean-Claude Juncker a great retirement from European politics, as he has earned it after years of hard work. He will surely get the same wishes from millions of Europeans, as he earned something not many can affirm they have: the love of the European people. Farewell, Jean-Claude.