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Gibraltar 'close to British hearts', but plenty of room for 'practical dialogue'

Wednesday, April 9th 2014 - 07:08 UTC
Full article 7 comments
Ambassador Manley suggested UK, Spain, Gibraltar and Andalucia dialogue Ambassador Manley suggested UK, Spain, Gibraltar and Andalucia dialogue

UK Ambassador to Spain, Simon Manley has told a Spanish newspaper that British people hold Gibraltar ‘close to their hearts’ and that delays at the border are politically motivated. He underscored Britain and Gibraltar’s desire to engage in “practical” dialogue toward better cross-border relations that would benefit communities on either side of the frontier fence.

 Asked what the Rock means to Britain, Mr Manley replied: “It is in the hearts of the British people.”

The British ambassador spoke to Europa Sur during a visit to Seville late last month, although the interview was published this weekend. Just days earlier, the UK and Spain had both summoned each other’s ambassadors following an incursion into British waters by a Spanish research ship.

In the interview, Ambassador Manley said relations between the UK and Spain were “very strong” and highlighted the extensive commercial and tourism links between the two countries. But the Madrid-based ambassador also acknowledged “differences” over Gibraltar.

“We are worried about delays at the border and the impact on the population, both of the Rock and of the region,” he said. “These queues are the result of political decisions”.

“We want to find a context for conversations between the British government, the Spanish government, the Gibraltar government and other relevant players such as the Junta de Andalucia to discuss the issues that worry us.”

Ambassador said such dialogue would not touch on sovereignty and would be “ad hoc, without one formula or another, practical.”

The interviewer suggested that nationalist sentiment had increased under Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and that cross border relations would have been easier with Peter Caruana.

“I don’t know,” Mr. Manley replied. “I’m not in a position to compare them.” He added “I know Picardo well and he is an impressive politician.”

“It is true that the delays last summer have had an impact on the population of Gibraltar’s point of view.”

Asked about border infrastructure, Ambassador Manley reminded the newspaper that the European Commission had made a number of recommendations to improve frontier flow and that the Gibraltar Government was already working on implementing them.

“I hope the Spanish Government does the same and that we can see a positive effect on the ground, with a more fluid crossing,” the ambassador said.

The ambassador said he had visited Gibraltar once and had also travelled to the La Linea side of the border. He admitted being surprised and saddened by the high level of unemployment in the Campo de Gibraltar.

But also pointed out that improved relations and practical dialogue could create opportunities for the economy of Gibraltar and the surrounding area to grow.

Categories: Politics, International.

Top Comments

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  • Anglotino

    So with all the kerfuffle by Spain over the past year or so; the truly has been?

    Gibraltar investigating incorporating the Shengen Acquis.

    Own goal Spain. Way to go.

    Apr 09th, 2014 - 07:50 am 0
  • GeoffWard2

    'But the Madrid-based ambassador also acknowledged “differences” over Gibraltar.'

    ... gentle ambassador-speak:
    the key difference is that Gib. IS British
    and it is NOT Spanish.

    If this expresses itself - for Spanish political reasons - as border delays, fishing incursions, etc. then so be it; everything passes once the political reason goes away.

    Apr 09th, 2014 - 10:17 am 0
  • Conqueror

    Here are the simple “accommodations” that need to be made:
    1) The Cervantes Institute needs to be kicked, literally, out of Gibraltar. A foreign propaganda agency on your own territory?
    2) The Royal Gibraltar Regiment could be deployed to the frontier to oppose the Guardia Civil. Shoot to kill within rules of engagement. Like 'only shoot if it's spanish'.
    3) The Royal Navy needs to be upgraded and “released”. Corvettes would be best, but frigates for the time being.
    4) A “flight” of RAF Typhoons.
    5) A “flight” of Army Air Corps Apache attack helicopters.

    Britain MUST comply with its obligations.

    Apr 09th, 2014 - 05:15 pm 0
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