The Gibraltar Government said Britain must find a different way to end the “totally unacceptable” actions by Spanish state vessels, the latest of which on Tuesday with the incursion of the corvette “Vencedora” flying an oversized Spanish ensign, which represents “a frontal challenge and an affront to British sovereignty”.
At around 10.30 Tuesday morning the Spanish corvette Vencedora (P-79) was seen entering the Bay of Gibraltar. It moved to the North end circled and left at around 11.25, a spokesperson for the Governor’s office commented.
“There was an unlawful incursion into BGTW this morning by the Spanish Navy vessel SPS Vencedora flying an over-sized Spanish ensign. The vessel was not exercising the right of innocent passage. The Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron challenged this behaviour. The vessel lowered the over-sized ensign and departed BGTW.
“The Convent regrets that the Spanish Navy vessel chose to return to BGTW, in particular so soon after HMG formal protest about last week’s incursion was lodged in Madrid. The Convent has notified London and Madrid of today’s further incursion. HMG will make a further suitably-worded formal protest as soon as possible regarding this incursion and the flying of this particular Spanish ensign within BGTW.
“The Convent is also aware of the incursion this (Tuesday) afternoon by a Spanish Customs vessel and has notified London and Madrid. We are awaiting further reports on the detail”.
The Gibraltar Government highlighted that the defence of Gibraltar and of the integrity of its territorial waters against the armed forces of another country was the constitutional responsibility of the British Government.
The warship and a Guardia Civil launch were tailed by vessels from the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron but they ignored several radio warnings to leave British waters. The incursion came just days after Britain complained to the Spanish government over a similar incident last week.
“The Convent regrets that the Spanish navy vessel chose to return to British Gibraltar Territorial Waters, in particular so soon after Her Majesty’s Government’s formal protest about last week’s incursion was lodged in Madrid,” a British Government spokesman at the Convent said.
“The Convent has notified London and Madrid of today’s further incursion.”
“Her Majesty’s Government will make a further suitably-worded formal protest as soon as possible regarding this incursion and the flying of this particular Spanish ensign within British Gibraltar Territorial Waters.”
“The Gibraltar Government welcomes the robust approach with Spain that the United Kingdom has adopted on a number of fronts and the unequivocal support which has been forthcoming on a number of issues,” it said in the statement.
“However, it is clear that the continuing breach of international law has now gone beyond the issue of diplomatic notes.”
“The Spanish Government, for its part, needs to ask what this aggressive posturing achieves apart from a waste of fuel on her vessels at a time of severe economic crisis.”
The Gibraltar Government did not specify what steps it would like to see Britain take to end the Spanish incursions.
The incursions and particularly this last one seem to be geared to domestic consumption: on Tuesday, one day before the Wednesday massive protest in Spain against austerity measures.