UK has dismissed a comment by Spain’s Foreign Minister suggesting that Britain and Spain were poised to reach a bilateral solution to the fishing dispute. Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said Spain was open to dialogue and that he and his British counterpart, William Hague, “talk a lot” about many issues, including Gibraltar
“I think I can say that in a very few days we are going to reach a solution that is satisfactory for both kingdoms,” he said during an interview on Spanish television.
But a spokesperson for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office on Friday night questioned the Spanish Foreign Minister’s statement and said any solution must involve Gibraltar.
“We are not aware of the solution which Mr Garcia-Margallo referred to in his interview” the spokesperson told the Gibraltar Chronicle.
“Clearly any negotiation or agreement relating to fishing in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters would need to involve Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar who are the authority with jurisdiction under Gibraltar’s Constitution.”
“The United Kingdom is confident of its sovereignty of those waters.”
“We continue to support efforts to establish dialogue on issues of mutual cooperation between Gibraltar, the UK and Spain.”
The Gibraltar Government said it had taken up the Spanish minister’s comments with the FCO and received “a categorical assurance” that there had been no such bilateral discussions or negotiations with Spain relating to Gibraltar.
“This is in keeping with the position repeatedly set out by the UK that it will not enter into a process of sovereignty negotiations with Spain on such Gibraltar matters as referred to by Garcia Margallo,” the Gibraltar Government said in a statement.
“It would therefore appear that Garcia Margallo’s statements are entirely incorrect.”
“Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar nonetheless remains strongly committed - as the United Kingdom has also repeatedly stated it is - to re-establishing the trilateral process of dialogue between Gibraltar, the UK and Spain on issues of mutual cooperation and which in the long term is in the interest of all relevant parties.”
During a wide-ranging interview on Cadena Ser Friday morning, the Spanish Foreign Minister repeated Spain’s often-stated position on the fishing dispute. He said the Guardia Civil would continue to protect Spanish fishermen as they fished “where they have always fished”.
Garcia-Margallo also stressed that Spain and the UK enjoyed good relations and shared many common interests.
“I want to have good relations with every country in the world, and certainly with the United Kingdom,” he said. “We have economic interests in the United Kingdom, many tourists come here.”
“I believe we have to work with the United Kingdom, but that is not to say we have to make concessions over what we consider important. We are open to dialogue.”
The interview came a day after Britain and Spain summoned each other’s respective ambassadors for a dressing down following the latest incidents in the Bay of Gibraltar this week.