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Gibraltar says UK diplomacy credibility must follow up words with actions

Saturday, November 17th 2012 - 05:42 UTC
Full article 46 comments
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo: “actions designed to assert the indisputable British sovereignty of the waters in question” Chief Minister Fabian Picardo: “actions designed to assert the indisputable British sovereignty of the waters in question”

There was a marked escalation in the dispute over Gibraltar’s territorial waters as Britain and Spain both hardened their diplomatic stance in the wake of recent incursions.

Spain’s ambassador to London was summoned to the Foreign Office on Thursday morning and told Spain must end its incursions into British Gibraltar territorial waters.

Hours later, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Madrid reciprocated by summoning Britain’s ambassador to the Spanish capital to express its concern over recent events and reiterate its position on the sovereignty of the waters.

In Gibraltar, Britain’s decision to summon the Spanish ambassador was welcomed unanimously by the Gibraltar Parliament following an emergency statement by Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, who said the move reflected the seriousness of the situation.

But the Chief Minister said Britain must now follow up its words with actions and bolster its naval presence here.

“It is appropriate that the diplomatic response to these belligerent acts should have been up-scaled as it has,” Mr Picardo said.

“It is equally important for Gibraltar, as much as it is for the credibility of British diplomacy, that these diplomatic steps should be backed up by actions designed to assert the indisputable British sovereignty of the waters in question.”

“There will therefore be unanimity across the floor of this House in the call for the Ministry of Defence to be able to deploy in Gibraltar as soon as possible the assets necessary to ensure the defence of these waters against the armed vessels and agents of the Spanish state.”

Federico Trillo, the Spanish ambassador and a former PP minister in the government of Jose Maria Aznar, was summoned to the FCO by its Permanent Under Secretary, Simon Fraser.

During the meeting Mr Fraser, the FCO top civil servant, underlined Britain’s deep concern following two incidents earlier this week. The meeting was the first time that Britain had called in the Spanish ambassador for a dressing down over the incursions.

In London, the FCO also issued a statement that left little doubt that Britain was fast losing patience with Spain over its activities in the Bay of Gibraltar.

David Lidington, Britain’s Minister for Europe, said that the latest incidents came despite repeated diplomatic protests over Spain’s attempt to exercise jurisdiction in Gibraltar waters.

“I condemn these provocative incursions and urge the Spanish government to ensure that they are not repeated,” Mr Lidington said.

But the Spanish government also reacted calling in the British ambassador to Madrid but since Giles Paxman was not in Madrid the meeting with Santiago Cabana, the director general of foreign policy at the MFA, was attended by his deputy.

The British official was told of the Spanish government’s concern at recent developments in Gibraltar waters and also made it clear that Spanish fishermen would continue to fish “in Spanish waters” as they had always done, according to Spanish sources.

Categories: Politics, International.

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  • Betelgeuse

    The article fails to mention the critical fact that the UN continues to list Gibraltar as a territory that needs to be decolonised by the UK.

    It is pure obfuscation to insist, as the UK does, that the current inhabitants of Gibraltar have a right under the principle of self-determination to determine the nationality of the land they live in. Under international law there are territorial limitations to the right of self-determination for transplanted populations living in colonial enclaves where a pre-colonial claim of sovereignty exists. This is the case with Gibraltar.

    A coloniser cannot legally disrupt the territorial integrity of another State by implanting its own population unto the territory it is colonising. In cases such as these, the inhabitants of the territory have a right to have their ‘interests’ considered but they have no right to unilaterally determine the nationality of the land they live in.

    Both the UN and ICJ have confirmed that the principle of territorial integrity complements and constrains the right to self-determination in cases such as Gibraltar. This is the reason why the UN adopted Resolution 2353 (XXII), which observed that the referendum conducted by Gibraltar in 1967 was invalid.

    The UN has repeatedly invited the UK to participate in discussions to achieve the de-colonisation of Gibraltar. The UK has also failed to honour its commitments under the Brussels Agreement in regard to Gibraltar.

    Spain has never recognised British sovereignty over the Bay of Algeciras. Not surprisingly therefore, it will continue to ignore the protests of the colony of Gibraltar and its British Governor and continue to exert its sovereignty in any way it sees fit.

    Nov 17th, 2012 - 06:22 am 0
  • Teaboy2

    @1 you seem to forget 1 simple fact don't you - Self determination takes precendence over all and any territorial integrity claim!

    Another point i will make to you too is that Gibralter is that spain ceded to Britian by Treaty. Britain has had sovereignty of the Gibralter for a much longer period than what spain itself had sovereignty. Not only that, Spain conquered Gibralter themselves originally as gibralter was never originally a part of spain - or are you saying portugal is part of spain too under your territorial integrity logic!

    Therefore by your logic it would simply be a colony of spain to this very day if it had not been ceded to Britian by Spain, and also by your logic Portugal is part of Spain due to terriotrial integrity.

    God your an idiot, as that same argument would mean Argentina would have a claim under territorial integrity to Uruaguay, Brazil and Chile are you saying their citizens do not have the right to Self Determination either. Perhaps you missed Bi Ki Moons Statement earlier this week, which was published in Mercopress, where he clear said the people have the right to choose their own future, whether it be as an independant state or as part of sovereign territory of another state that they themselves have choosen to be part off. Gibralter had a refferendum and decided by a clear majority to remain as a british territory and the falklands will also do the same.

    Why don't you take the falklands matter to the ICJ, oh i forget we've asked you on a number of occasions but your so scared you'd lose you refused to accept the ICJ's jurisdiction!

    Nov 17th, 2012 - 07:27 am 0
  • HansNiesund


    You must have missed the bit where the Secretary-General of the United Nations blows all these stupid arguments out of the water.

    Nov 17th, 2012 - 07:51 am 0
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