Reaction from Giles Chichester MEP

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Reaction from Giles Chichester MEP


Date : 
25/05/12


Reaction from Giles Chichester MEP


“The UK will not enter into sovereignty arrangements or negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content” was the response of Foreign Office Minister David Liddington to the Spanish Government request for talks with the UK, but excluding the Government of Gibraltar, on issues concerning Gibraltar’s sovereignty. The Spanish offer of dialogue remains on the table and Gibraltar will undoubtedly be on the agenda when Spanish Foreign Minister Garcia Margallo meets with our Foreign Secretary William Hague next week. The UK Government is clear, however, that no decisions can be reached without Gibraltar’s involvement.

In the meantime, to emphasise their desire for urgent talks on the Gibraltar issue, the Spanish authorities are stepping up a campaign of harassment on the frontiers of the Rock. Ignoring EU rules concerning the free movement of people within the European Community, Spanish police and customs officials have increased border controls over those entering or leaving the Rock. Vehicles are taking up to 3 hours to make the crossing and there are long pedestrian queues – a situation which is harmful to the economies on both sides of the border and contrary to the spirit and letter of the Cordoba agreement.

There is also renewed conflict on fishing rights in Gibraltar waters despite the mutually beneficial 1999 agreement reached with Spanish fishermen. This situation is being aggravated by the Spanish Guardia Civil and customs whose launches are entering Gibraltar’s waters and provoking confrontations with Royal Navy patrol boats.

The last time that Spain used this harassment strategy was in 2010 when I sought the assistance of Foreign Secretary Hague and European Commission President Barroso to resolve the dispute. Now the Spanish Government is “banging the drum” to distract its people from their terrible internal economic situation and little Gibraltar is an easy target. Unfortunately the Spanish authorities seem to have been infected with a similar tactic to that being deployed by the desperate President of Argentina against the Falklands. The tragedy is that this situation can only threaten the livelihood of people on both sides of the Gibraltar frontier and will have little impact upon the UK Government position.

We are committed to protecting the sovereignty of the people of Gibraltar and will continue to endeavour to maintain good relations with the Spanish Government. However, they must accept that all negotiations must take place in a Trilateral Forum comprising representatives of the UK, Spain and Gibraltar.



Giles Chichester MEP
Conservative MEP for South West England and Gibraltar

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