Tensions over Gibraltar, between Spain and the United Kingdom, this week seem to have reached a new high. With the rhetoric from both sides increasing exponentially, the United Kingdom claims that the Rock of Gibraltar is indeed rightfully a British territory, while various members of the Spanish government claim Gibraltar is in fact or should be a Spanish territory or part of Spain. So among this rising tension it is hard to distinguish from all the clamour of noisy claims of who Gibraltar rightfully belongs to. This blog post will seek to assess the current situation, multiple and different viewpoints on the issue of who Gibraltar belongs to, and will also attempt to establish what the best course of action on the Gibraltar problem is.
Much of the tension seems to have arisen from plans of Gibraltar’s government to place concrete blocks into the ocean to create an artificial coral reef. The Spanish government has claimed that this will endanger reputation and livelihoods of Spanish fishers and the fishing industry in the region. Tension again increased after the Spanish government did not consult the British government on a suggested crossing toll of £43 to cross borders. Many see the latest action of the Spanish government to be a definite attack on Gibraltar’s sovereignty and trying to continue to inflame the issue of Gibraltar. Spain has also increased the number of border searches and searches on vehicles both of commercial and residential purposes. Many see this is not an actual attempt to stop any terrorist threat or to increase security measures but as a way of slowing entrance to Gibraltar and convey the Spanish government political message.
Spain’s Foreign Minister, well-known for controversial statement on Gibraltar’s relationship with the international community made some deeply questionable diplomatic statements today. BBC News today gave an insight into this action in a BBC article.
“Mr Garcia-Margallo also hinted at the introduction of other measures, including tax investigations into property owned by Gibraltarians in neighbouring parts of Spain, and the closing of Spanish airspace to flights heading to Gibraltar.”
In my opinions, these measures are simply for the purpose of causing diplomatic incidents. There is no need to close Spanish airspace to flights heading to Gibraltar, as business in Gibraltar will most likely also go to Spain. By introducing border charges, the Spanish government will discourage people from visiting neighbouring parts of Spain, therefore this will hurt business and trading with Gibraltar. The nearby tourist industry will suffer also, especially as the Spanish government chose this period to implement tolls when the tourist industry is at peak. From a neutral stand point, this simply does not make economic or political sense.
Earlier today on Sky News, UKIP MEP William Dartmouth suggested that a British warship or frigate should be pulled away from current duty and placed off the coast of Spain. This is a disastrous idea and would also create significant escalations, but would also be a complete miss-allocation of resources and give enemies of the west is ideas that it is divided. If the question of Gibraltar is to be resolved then it must be through diplomacy.
Currently Spain and Britain claim sovereignty over Gibraltar. Gibraltar has been historically controlled by Spain and Britain, but in my opinion it must be noted that self-determination in the 21st century should be the method countries decide territorial disputes. Empowering people to have a say encourages local democracy, while Gibraltar and Spain are strong democracies, empowering people still increases participation and increases the variety of points and consequently solutions. The power of empowering is powerful. The post must now come to a conclusion on the topic presented. The previous votes by the people of Gibraltar have maintained that it wishes to remain British. The government of Gibraltar should simply continue to stress its democratic mandate for people who have chosen that they wish to be governed by the UK rather than the Spanish state. Both sides should come to a negotiation settlement with neutral moderators. In my opinion, the only fair outcome is that the United Kingdom, even from a neutral perspective, have the strongest claim. Spain have little claim to Gibraltar. Perhaps the Spanish government should, instead of hampering business, work with Gibraltar and the United Kingdom government to boost the economy and therefore help international efforts toward a global recovery and international security.