Tensions rise between Britain and Spain over Gibraltar

Tensions rise between Britain and Spain over Gibraltar
# 12 August 2013 23:57 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Relations between Great Britain and Spain continued to grow tense on Monday as both countries openly discussed the possibility of taking their respective cases over the British Crown Colony of Gibraltar to international courts, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

The latest conflict over the territory, situated on the south-west coast of Spain, began over a week ago after authorities from Gibraltar, which was ceded to Britain in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, dumped around 70 large concrete blocks in the sea.

The move was thought to be designed to complicate the lives of Spanish fishermen, who often enter Gibraltar's territorial waters. Spain saw the matter as a direct affront and responded with tighter border controls, causing delays of between three to four hours.

Following controls for a second consecutive weekend, ostensibly to prevent smuggling of contraband into Spain, British Prime Minister David Cameron called the move "politically motivated and disproportionate."

"The British prime minister is disappointed by the failure of the Spanish to remove the additional border checks this weekend and we are now considering what legal action is open to us," a British government spokesman said Monday, adding that Britain could bring the matter up in the European Union.

"Spain needs to deescalate the issue by the removal of border checks. It would be illegal under EU law and contrary to the right of free movement," he said.

Last week, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Cameron held a phone conversation to try and calm the situation.

With the news that a fleet of British warships was enroute to Gibraltar to take part in "routine operations," Spain's Foreign Minister Jose Garcia Margallo upped the ante on Sunday by saying he would take Spain's case over Gibraltar to the United Nations.

He also proposed Spain and Argentina present a "united front" over Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands, the British South Atlantic colony which Argentina claims as its own.

Margallo added Spain was considering imposing a charge of 50 euros (66.5 dollars) for crossing the frontier between Spain and Gibraltar.

The British government and the Foreign Office responded saying Britain's policy on Gibraltar had not changed. "Self-determination matters more than territorial integrity. The people of Gibraltar have repeatedly and overwhelmingly expressed their wish to remain under British sovereignty," an official statement read.

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