Conflict & Justice

Gibraltar border row: Spain acting like North Korea, minister says


British Royal Navy soldiers stand on guard during Britain's Princess Anne’s visit to Gibraltar on March 5, 2009.



The chief minister of Gibraltar has accused Spain of acting like North Korea after Spain increased checks at its border with the territory last week and announced that it was considering new vehicle fees and flight restrictions for travel to Gibraltar.

Gibraltar is a British territory that is also claimed by Spain. Recent UK governments have said that they won’t return Gibraltar to Spain as long as its 30,000 residents want the territory to remain British.

In an interview with Spanish newspaper ABC published over the weekend, Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said that Spain was considering imposing a 50 euro fee on all vehicles entering and leaving Gibraltar.

Garcia-Margallo said Spain would use the money collected to compensate fishermen whose fishing grounds have been disrupted by an artificial reef Gibraltar officials have built.

"The things that Mr. Garcia-Margallo has said are more reminiscent of the type of statement you'd hear from North Korea than from an EU partner,” the chief minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, said in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today program, according to the Independent.

He added that “hell will freeze over” before Gibraltar officials removed the artificial reef.

The prime minister has made clear that the UK government will meet its constitutional commitments to the people of Gibraltar and will not compromise on sovereignty," the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office said in a statement Sunday, according to the Wall Street Journal. "Our differences with Spain on Gibraltar will be resolved by political means through our relationship as EU partners, not through disproportionate measures such as the border delays we have seen over the past week."