Spain accused of “acting like North Korea” over Gibraltar
Fabian Picardo, the chief minister of Gibraltar, has accused the Spanish government of “sabre rattling” and “acting like North Korea” in a row over the British territory.
He has further insisted that the Spanish are behaving as they did during Spanish dictator Franco’s rule. The comments were made as Spain threatened to impose sanctions upon the Gibraltar, and after Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo talked of charging workers up to £90 a day to cross the border.
The row comes as the authorities in Gibraltar are blamed for damage caused to the Spanish fishing industry by installing an artificial reef designed to block access to Spanish fishermen. Mr Picardo has defiantly declared “hell will freeze over” before the reef is removed.
Mr Garcia-Margallo has suggested a levy be implemented on travellers from Gibraltar in an attempt to reverse the damage, an idea seen as belligerent by Mr Picardo: “I think this is quite a silly remark for the Spanish foreign minister to have made. He is sabre-rattling à la North Korea. It almost makes you feel like you are listening to the politics of Franco in the 1950s and 60s.”
Today the Foreign Office, in an effort to calm tensions, reassured the situation would be resolved through political means and not by “disproportionate measures”, having already declared that Britain would not compromise its sovereignty over Gibraltar in any way, nor become involved in any negotiations.
The Spanish government is becoming increasingly authoritarian and uncompromising over issues surrounding Gibraltar. In an interview with Spanish newspaper ABC, the Spanish foreign minister suggested that Spanish tax authorities could investigate the properties owned by 6,000 Gibraltarians in neighbouring parts of Spain.
Spanish airspace could be closed to flights en route to Gibraltar, he suggested, as well as stopping concrete and materials used to build an artificial reef being brought across the border, and changing the law so that online gaming companies in Gibraltar have to use Spanish servers and therefore pay tax to Spain.
Prime minister David Cameron has also become involved in the row and voiced serious concerns. According to a spokesperson for the Foreign Office, the UK expects Madrid to live up to the commitments it made in the 2006 Cordoba Agreement, and that a dialogue can reopen between the two nations regarding Gibraltar.