A LETTER has been written by a group of concerned Conservative MP’s warning the Secretary-General of Nato that recent antagonistic behaviour from Spain in relation to Gibraltar could lead to a “serious” incident with the potential of undermining the unity of the alliance.
They called the world’s largest defence alliance’s attention to more than 210 “unlawful incursions” of Spanish state vessels into the territorial waters of British Gibraltar and claiming that Spain is becoming “increasingly unreliable” as a responsible Nato ally.
One specific complaint targets Spain’s refusal to permit naval vessels from the US to refuel in Gibraltar before docking in Spanish waters, which is alleged to be a serious impediment to the free flow of Nato forces.
“We are personally fearful that these incursions will eventually result in a serious incident at sea with collisions and a danger of serious injury,” write the authors.
“The fact that Spain impedes the free movement of Nato forces between Gibraltar and Spain is to the detriment of Western Security, for example not allowing US Naval ships to bunker in Gibraltar and then dock at Spanish ports.”
Other complaints include the refusal of the Madrid government to allow RAF aircraft to travel across Spanish airspace while journeying back and forth from the British mainland to Gibraltar, causing significant additional expense.
“It seems to us that Spain’s behavior as a Nato Ally is becoming increasingly unreliable,” the letter continues.
“The Spanish Government allows the refueling of Russian warships in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta at a time when Russia has invaded the Ukraine and is aggressively testing Nato’s reactions.
“Yet the Spanish Foreign Minister makes ongoing verbal threats against Gibraltar.”
While the Gibraltar question has long cast a shadow over UK-Spanish relations, the Brexit vote appears to have lent fuel to the fire as Spain looks set to soon wield firm control over the transfer of goods, services and people in and out of the peninsula once EU freedom of movement laws cease to be applicable.