British MEP loses Brexit visa role over Gibraltar row

Claude Moraes. (twitter)
Updated 02 April 2019

British MEP loses Brexit visa role over Gibraltar row

  • Spain has a long-standing claim on the rocky territory on its southern shore, while the British government insists it be treated as part of the “UK family” in Brexit talks

BRUSSELS: A British member of the European Parliament lost his role negotiating a post-Brexit visa law on Monday, amid a dispute over a draft that refers to Gibraltar as a colony.
As chairman of the parliament’s civil liberties and justice committee, Claude Moraes had been guiding negotiations on a draft law to issue visa waivers to Britons once their country leaves the European Union.
“Coordinators met earlier today and decided to change the rapporteur on the Brexit visa related file,” Moraes, a member of Britain’s Labour Party, confirmed, adding that Bulgarian member Sergei Stanishev will take charge.
Diplomats told AFP that EU member states had pushed for Moraes to be bumped from the visa law talks because he was reluctant to accept a draft referring to Gibraltar as “a colony of the British crown.”
A parliamentary official told AFP that EU leaders had decided Moraes had a “conflict of interest” and that speaker Antonio Tajani had informed him of this, without explicitly asking him to step down.
But some of Moraes’ colleagues denounced the intervention, suggesting that the lawmaker had been forced aside.
Czech liberal and committee colleague Petr Jezek said the parliament had “shot itself in the foot” by removing a member who had been faithfully representing the body’s position on the law.
And a Conservative British MEP, Daniel Dalton said Moraes had “been forced out for rightly opposing Spanish attempts to describe Gibraltar as a colony in the text. Gibraltar is British.”
Spain has a long-standing claim on the rocky territory on its southern shore, while the British government insists it be treated as part of the “UK family” in Brexit talks.
In November, the European Commission suggested that after Britain leaves the bloc — as it currently plans to do on April 12 — Britons who want to make short stays on the continent would receive a visa waiver.
Negotiations on the text of a law have bogged down, however, because of Spain’s insistence that it reflect Gibraltar’s status as what the United Nations terms a “non self-governing” territory.
MEPs want to adopt the proposed law next Thursday, but the text must first be agreed with the Commission, which is the EU executive, and the European Council, which represents member states, including Spain.


Jakarta literary festival aims to give a voice to the voiceless

Updated 56 min 21 sec ago

Jakarta literary festival aims to give a voice to the voiceless

  • The four-day festival features authors from the Middle East and Africa
  • The festival unites international authors with dozens of fellow writers from Indonesia

JAKARTA: The inaugural Jakarta International Literary Festival commenced on Tuesday evening with a focus on bringing together writers and literary works from the Global South. 

Festival Director Yusi Avianto Pareanom said that the organizer, the Literary Committee of the Jakarta Arts Council, wanted to emphasize the importance of creating balance in a discourse that has been dominated by work from the Global North.

The four-day festival features authors from the Middle East and Africa, such as Legodle Seganabeng from Botswana, Adania Shibli from Palestine, Bejan Matur from Turkey, Zainab Priya Dala from South Africa, Shenaz Patel from Mauritius, Momtaza Mehri from Somalia and many authors from Southeast Asian countries.

The festival unites international authors with dozens of fellow writers from Indonesia at the Taman Ismail Marzuki arts and cultural center in Jakarta between Aug. 20 and 24.  

“Our theme ‘Fence’ highlights that we want to unlock and deconstruct the barriers that separate us, so that these writers can get to know each other,” Yusi told Arab News. 

“From authors like Adania Shibli, we can enrich our knowledge about Palestine and its literary scene. There are plenty of ways to portray a situation. Through Shibli, we can get understand Palestine through its literary side.

“By featuring Bejan Matur, we know that there is another prominent Turk author apart from the world-renowned Orhan Pamuk,” he added. 

Shibli delivered her keynote speech titled “I am not to speak my language” at the opening of the festival, in which she described how the Israeli occupation has silenced Arabic-speaking Palestinians.

“The phenomenon of Palestinians taking refuge in silence whenever they are around Hebrew speakers in Palestine or Israel is not unfamiliar,” Shibli said.

She added that decades of military occupation had made speaking in Arabic a fraught experience. 

“Colonialism, however, does not only show contempt toward the colonized, their history and their culture by silencing them, but also toward their language,” she said.  

Shibli described how the nationality law, which the Israeli government passed in July 2018, strips Arabic of its designation as an official language and downgrades it to a special status. 

“Arabic was downgraded from a language into a threat a long time ago,” she added. 

Yusi said that what Shibli described in her speech is relevant to similar situations in other countries, including Indonesia. 

Multilingual Indonesia has more than 700 actively spoken local dialects, with 652 of them verified by the Ministry of Education and Culture. Many of the remaining dialects are in danger of dying out due to diminishing speakers, especially among the younger generation.