Gibraltar tensions increase following incident

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HMS Sabre escorting a vessel in Gibraltar waters. Photo: Stuart Hill, from The Ministry of Defence.


Following recent diplomatic tensions over Gibraltar between London and Madrid, there has been more trouble this week.

 

On Monday a Royal Navy warship was involved in a stand-off with a Spanish patrol boat after an illegal incursion into Gibraltar’s waters.

HMS Sabre, a patrol vessel with Army and Navy troops aboard, was deployed to challenge the Guardia Civil’s Rio Cedena along with two other state ships.

Allegedly, the Spaniards entered British-controlled waters as part of an ongoing ‘campaign of harassment’ over Gibraltar. Witnesses reported that the vessels made deliberate manoeuvres to provoke a reaction.

Following recent provocations, UK MPs are demanding that a Royal Navy frigate be permanently based in Gibraltar as a deterrent.

Recently, the number of incursions has risen. There were just 30 in 2011, but a massive 496 last year. This means that there have been almost 600 illegal incursions into British seas in 14 months.

2014 has already seen over 80 unlawful incursions, including by Spanish police, naval and coastguard vessels.

Just last week the Spanish ambassador to the UK was summoned again by the UK Foreign Office after one of the country’s research vessels unlawfully entered British coastal waters off Gibraltar.

Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke, said: “We are getting to the stage where we need to send warships down there as a permanent presence to protect British interests and our citizens.”

Shelbrooke, a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gibraltar continued: “If Spain keeps encroaching on our territory, then maybe our Navy should start encroaching on any Spanish ships that encroach into our waters.”

Gibraltar Chief Minister has warned that Spanish vessels entering British territory may come under fire, as they are not identified as being from ‘a friendly nation’.

Fabian Picardo has said that Spanish boats ‘may find themselves shot at’ if they continue to disregard Gibraltar’s marine borders.

 

7 COMMENTS

  1. Gibraltar is not a State it is a British colony which according to the UN is in the process of decolonisation.

    Spain has never recognised UK sovereignty over anything other than the waters of the port of Gibraltar.

    This is the reason why the waters of the port are specifically excluded from the European Commission approved Spanish nature site which otherwise covers the entirety of the so called British Gibraltar Territorial Waters.

    Significantly, the European Court of Justice has dismissed two separate challenges by the UK to the establishment of the Spanish administered nature site.

    This is an outcome which significantly supports Spain’s long standing position on the sovereignty dispute with the UK over the Bay of Algeciras.

  2. Gibraltar has been awarded territorial waters under the terms of UNCLOS. If Spain wants to delimit these waters under any ‘historical rights’ reasons they need to take the matter to the UN ICJ. The ICJ has already determined that one State cannot delimit another’s territorial waters.

  3. If the Spanish keep this up there will a serious incident in the near future. The best way to solve this issue is diplomacy, but unfortunately the Spanish are not only stupid but stubborn.
    Gibraltar has a legal right to protect its national waters under maritime and international law. Perhaps a warship should fire a round alongside the intruders, because that will surely put the wind up them. I can’t see a Guardia vessel taking on the Royal Navy and winning.

  4. If the Morrocans behaved in the same way as the Spanish do over Melilla and Ceuta, the Spanish would be throwing their toys out of the pram jist like the big spoiled babies that they are.
    They are so blinded by self interest that they refuse to recognise the hipocrisy of the situation.
    What kind of way to behave is that towards Britain, who traditionally has propped up Spain, not only with tourism, but with massive residential tourism as well? Britain is a major contributor to the E.U. which Spain, as one of the four poorest of the 27 relies on heavily but contributes little.
    But that is why Spain is so cocky. If war was to break out between the two countries, Spain already has nearly a million hostages over here who have all bought houses.
    I often wonder how Spain would behave towards Gibraltar if it was German. They always want Germany to win against England at football. In fact they always want England to loose no matter who the opposition is.

  5. Given the hysteria that accompanies every so called ‘incursion’ by Spain, one would expect that the UK would be keen as mustard to try to legally enforce its alleged ‘rights’ through international processes.

    The fact that it studiously chooses not to speaks volumes about the alleged ‘legitimacy’ of its unilateral claims. It may be that the UK is still smarting from the fact that the UN General Assembly has been calling upon Great Britain to negotiate a transfer of the territory of Gibraltar to Spain since the 1960s despite the expressed wishes of the Gibraltarians in favour of the status quo.

    Until the UK is able to enforce its alleged ‘rights’ through legitimate international processes, Spain will continue to completely ignore British attempts to assert unilateral jurisdiction in the Bay of Algeciras.

  6. Spain has never accepted UK jurisdiction over the UK unilaterally declared ‘British Gibraltar Territorial Waters’ with the exception of the waters of the port.

    By the Treaty of Utrecht, Spain ceded to Great Britain ‘the full and entire propriety of the town and castle of Gibraltar’. According to that treaty, the ‘propriety’ was yielded ‘without any territorial jurisdiction’.

    Given the hysteria that accompanies every so called ‘incursion’ by Spain, one would expect that the UK would be keen as mustard to try to legally enforce its alleged ‘rights’ through international processes.

    The fact that it studiously chooses not to speaks volumes about the alleged ‘legitimacy’ of its unilateral claims. It may be that the UK is still smarting from the fact that the UN General Assembly has been calling upon Great Britain to negotiate a transfer of the territory of Gibraltar to Spain since the 1960s.

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