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327 words - August 8, 2013 | © DiploNews, all rights reserved.
On August 2, FCO Political Director Simon Gass summoned the Spanish Ambassador to the UK, Federico Trillo, in order to "underline the British Government's serious concerns regarding delays at the Gibraltar-Spain border, and to seek reassurances that there would be no repeat of this situation."
According to FCO Minister of State Hugo Swire, "from 26 to 28 July, and again on 30 July, there were long delays at the Gibraltar-Spain border of up to seven hours, as a result of wholly disproportionate checks introduced by the Spanish authorities on vehicles both leaving and entering Gibraltar." The UK shares a "strong relationship" with Spain and remains convinced that differences with Spain on Gibraltar can be resolved by political means. However the incident reached the highest level of both states.
During a conversation with Gibraltar's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague stressed the UK will not compromise on British sovereignty over Gibraltar. Also Mr. Hague called upon "Spain to respect the agreements made at Cordoba and to avoid actions which could increase tension further."
On August 7, the British Prime Minister David Cameron and his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy had a 10-minute telephone conversation 24 hours after a first unsuccessful attempt by Mr. Cameron to reach Mr. Rajoy. The former insisted that "there was a real risk" of the issue to damage bilateral relations "unless the situation at the border improved", and the latter justified the delays of the checks with "border control obligations in line with Schengen Borders Code."
Lastly, the two leaders agreed that "the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Spain and the UK should begin talks immediately to resolve the disagreement." Gibraltar is a British overseas territory since its capture by UK forces during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714). Gibraltar has been the subject of irredentist claim by Spain and has appeared on the UN list of "non-self-governing territories" since then.
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