Falklands and Gibraltar: Spain considering a joint front with Argentina at UN, says Madrid media
Spanish Foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo will be visiting Argentina next September to meet with his peer Hector Timerman to discuss the Gibraltar and Falklands/Malvinas sovereignty disputes and consider the possibility of a joint front.
According to reports in Sunday’s Madrid media, besides the Repsol/YPF controversy, Garcia-Margalla and Hector Timerman will discuss if Spain and Argentina can have a unified position at the UN to challenge the British government on their territorial disputes.
“Currently is could be attractive an entente with Buenos Aires: Argentina is a member of the Security Council in 2013/14 and could include, or at least attempt to, the Gibraltar issue in the Security Council agenda. Even when the UK has a veto right, it should abstain on an issue that involves her directly”, points out El Pais quoting diplomatic sources.
El País said Spain could also take the matter to the International Court of Justice and the UN General Assembly. We are studying taking the matter to the UN and these are all options that are being considered, the source said, commenting on the report in El País.
The minister is travelling to Argentina in September and plans to exchange ideas over the matter, the source added. Argentina is immersed in its own dispute with Britain over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.
Nevertheless the newspaper also admits that the Repsol/YPF dispute which distanced both countries to almost the breaking of all dialogue and threats of trade conflicts could be a difficulty for such an approach between the governments of Cristina Fernandez and Mariano Rajoy.
However the British government again repeated its position regarding Gibraltar, “which has not changed” and is ‘coherent’ with its policy towards all Overseas territories.
A spokesperson for the Foreign Office made the statement following the reports in El Pais and other media that Madrid was considering taking the Gibraltar conflict to the UN and other international forums, following on the steps of Argentina.
“Self determination is far more significant that territorial integrity. The people of Gibraltar have repeatedly expressed and overwhelmingly their wish to remain under British sovereignty”, said the spokesperson in London.
For Spain to take the Gibraltar issue to the UN Security Council or international courts would mark a change of tactic and could increase tensions.
Rajoy threatened unilateral measures over the Gibraltar spat on Friday, while British navy vessels were heading to the territory for what both Spain and Britain have played down as a routine, scheduled visit.
Gibraltar, the tiny rocky promontory near the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, has been a source of on-off tensions since Spain ceded the territory to Britain in the Treaty of Utrecht 300 years ago. This year is full of opportunities to remember the 1713 cession of Gibraltar by Spain to Britain.
The latest dispute arose last month when Gibraltar's boats dumped concrete blocks into the sea to create a reef for fish at the mouth of the Mediterranean.
Spain said the reef would restrict its fishing boats and hit back with tougher border checks and threats of a 50-Euro fee for people crossing the Gibraltar border. It is not clear whether such a fee would be legal under EU law.
In an interview on Spanish television on Saturday, Garcia Margallo said the entry fee would not be imposed on workers who frequently cross the border for their jobs and pledged aid to the fishermen whose livelihood is being hit by the reef.
Travellers as well as residents of both Spain and Gibraltar continued to endure long queues at the border over the weekend due to Spanish authorities' increased checks on vehicles entering and leaving the territory.