The Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, has been in London for bilateral meetings with the British Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague regarding the ongoing diplomatic tension between Gibraltar and Spain which has resulted in long queues being experienced at the border in recent weeks.
While not a new problem
, the recent increase in delays at the border have come about after the Spanish protested to the British Government after Gibraltar created a reef in waters just off the coast in a bid to protect the local fish stocks. The Spanish argue the man-made reef compromises the ability of their fishermen to make a living. As a result, the Spanish have toughened checks on the border, slowing traffic and threatening to impose a €50 fee for crossing from one country to the other, which would be illegal under EU law.
His visit comes as Police confirm they are looking into reports that Guardia Civil officers were pelted with missiles and verbally abused by people waiting in long queues to leave the Rock
, and soon after the Mayor of Valencia Francisco Perez Trigueros was lambasted for uploading a provocative photoshop image to his Facebook page of soldiers marching through the British overseas territory and fighter jets sweeping over the Rock flying a Spanish flag
Following the meeting, a spokesperson for Downing Street said
: “The Prime Minister met the Chief Minister of Gibraltar Fabian Picardo today. The meeting reaffirmed the existing strong and historic bonds between the UK and Gibraltar and the Prime Minister repeated his commitment to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Gibraltar.
“They discussed the unacceptable delays at the Spanish/Gibraltar border and agreed that these are damaging to the people and economies of Gibraltar and Spain. They agreed that efforts should remain concentrated on finding a diplomatic solution, in line with the Foreign Secretary’s proposals last year for ad hoc dialogue.
The Chief Minister added
: “The meeting, occurring during a time of intense political activity in London over Syria, demonstrated the strength of the Prime Minister's concern for Gibraltar and its people at a time when Spain is taking illegal action at the border and continuing frequent incursions into British Gibraltar waters. During the course of our discussion Mr Cameron restated his strong support for the Government and people of Gibraltar. He repeated directly to me that he stands shoulder to shoulder with us at this difficult time.
Photo: Government of Gibraltar
Video: GBC News