UK has misjudged waters issue

Take your pick. You can either say the plot thickens. Or that the political situation has never been clearer. There’s not much to choose, but the plot or the situation regarding the Guardia Civil is getting out of control that’s for sure! So in that sense, the plot has certainly become much more politically dense!

And as far as the issue becoming much clearer, well in a matter of a few days two very serious incidents involving locals boats have been reported to the authorities. A very disturbing if not worrying situation, which again clearly demonstrate (if that was needed) that the Spanish government through their paramilitary forces have become ‘unashamedly brazen treating British Gibraltar territorial waters (BGTW) as their own. Although to be accurate they have been for years!

These two serious incidents in 4 days, including the daily incursions by the Guardia Civil vessels when accompanying the fishing boats can only be seen as - unfriendly, provocative and the actions of a hostile neighbour! Spain has dangerously taken this issue another level.

The latest incident on Friday night was a classic, a scenario that has been repeated many times by the Guardia Civil. This in an attempt to impose their authority over our waters!

Under the present scenario what happened on Friday night to the two local fishermen should not really have shocked many people. Because this latest incident although extremely serious is on par with the other incident last week where another local boat was repeatedly fired on by these people, which unfortunately for reasons best known to some of our local experts on these matters, did not receive the similar condemnation or attention.

Spanish incursions is nothing new, they have been going on for as long as I can remember. There have been hundreds of Spanish incursions spanning many years, but not only incursions, but similar incidents (and worse) as that of the two local fishermen illegally accosted on Friday night and the boat that was fired on last week.

Quiet UK diplomacy misjudges the whole sovereignty (waters) issue

The quiet diplomacy adopted by the UK government over many years to convince Spain to basically back-off has not worked. If anything, the foreign office in London has made the sovereignty issue more complex by failing to do anything effective.

The UK government in my opinion has completely misjudged the whole situation. It’s patently obvious that Spain is merely wiping its posterior with whatever is being sent inside those foreign office diplomatic pouches arriving in Madrid via London.

The present situation follows months of Spanish intransigence; it has seen many dozens of similar instances incursions, which have placed the local population at risk (or those that are out in the bay). But it has also allowed the sovereignty aspect to gather a negative momentum in favour of Spain, who has quite obviously wasted no time in taking advantage of the less-then-effective manner the UK has attempted to fend-off the continuous illegal Spanish transgressions into BGTW.

UK needs a next move not another promise!

The UK cannot possible sit on this issue any longer, or can it? The foreign office cannot either continue sending diplomatic messages that are falling on deaf and uninterested Spanish ears. But if you think that it is all happening despite both the British and Spanish governments’ brandishing their commitment to a diplomatic solution. Although diplomacy has never been Spain’s ‘forte’ in international relations.

What the UK government should be embarking on is to increase whatever diplomatic process is available to them, at the same time seriously consider some other form of direct action. Essentially to demonstrate to Madrid that on the ground (water) they mean business. A similar measured response must be found that will make the Spaniards understand that on this side of the bay we are serious about protecting BGTW.

Clearly the UK government cannot allow the Guardia Civil to continue riding rough-shot in our waters any longer. A situation like this is just unheard of in this day and age, particularly from a so called NATO and European ally

There is constant risk to safety of residents in Gibraltar. The Spaniards are also making a total mockery of ‘Gibraltar laws’, in addition and just as important if not more Spain is being allowed to significantly weaken the integrity of BGTW.

Gibraltar slams Spain’s paramilitary forces!

The government of Gibraltar, who must be as fed up as much as the rest of us, issued a very strong and carefully worded statement where they condemned without reservation the actions of the Spanish civil guards on Friday night and also demanding action from the UK.

The progressive democratic party has also come out strong regarding the incident last Friday.

The Gibraltar government has now made its statement. But as I have said countless times ‘it is now up to the people of Gibraltar, political parties and organisations to also make a collective statement to the British government that we have had enough.

UK response - more political repeats!

Having just read the response from David Lidington, you wonder if he has only printed out a previous statement made by one of his colleagues at the foreign office. The statement is no more then a we’ve heard it all before response which will go a long way into achieving nothing. In the mean time, the Guardia Civil and the people in Madrid must be ‘quaking in the shoes’ after reading Lidington’s statement.

The people of Gibraltar are extremely concerned with what appears to be a deteriorating situation and one that started as a fishing dispute but predictable turned into a serious sovereignty claim by Spain.

It is clear Spain has stepped up its bullying tactics, it continues to illegally and dangerously target innocent citizens of Gibraltar, something they have become us to over many years, these are innocent local who are only going about their business in ‘British territory’ and who deserve better protection from a hostile neighbour.

I also find it quite ironic, that last week there were certain people on the rock questioning the veracity of last weeks shooting incident at sea involving a local pleasure boat and the Guardia Civil. And yet a few days later, the Guardia Civil ‘true to form’ were their inimitable self, affecting a pirate style attack on another local boat in BGTW, arresting and then kidnapping two local fishermen stealing their fishing gear on the way, who were then illegally taken across the bay and locked up. At the same time the Guardia Civil were running away from the local authorities switching off all navigational lights on both vessels in the process. Just like smugglers do, which was an issue that concerned some people here last week and the shallow manner they wrongly evaluated the shooting incident…giving all the credence to the Guardia Civil of all people.

A call for ‘open diplomacy’ from the UK

There are more people demanding to know why diplomatic efforts are not working despite countless similar statements by the UK government that they are pursuing the talks and that they remain in contact with each other. London in my view should be much more transparent about whatever diplomatic efforts are on going, and explain to us here what’s going wrong. The process appears colonial from the past!

There already some who are asking for ‘open diplomacy’ so that Gibraltar is properly informed, allowing us to prepare for better or for worse in these deteriorating times. Because if yesterdays statement from Lidington is anything to go by, we can expect a right old summer with those olive- green uniform friends in the bay.

However, I’m sure that now that the foreign office have responded to the latest incident, we can rest assure that we’ve seen the last of all the Guardia Civil incursions. Although if you believe that, you will believe anything…so please don’t hold your breath on this, because you will surely suffocate!

23-07-12

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