Tensions between Spain and the UK have been heightened in recent weeks, and at the heart of the spat is Gibraltar, a concrete sea wall or artificial reef and Spanish fishermen. This time it centres on territorial waters surrounding one of the last bastion's of the defunct British Empire, Gibraltar.
The latest news is that Spanish policemen staged a silly publicity stunt Friday as they weighed into the summer madness.
According to the Telegraph: "Spain's Guardia Civil police on Friday released a video purportedly of its divers inspecting and measuring one of 70 concrete blocks dropped by Gibraltar into the surrounding sea to create a hotly disputed reef. The divers also took Spanish flags with them, posing underwater for photos, which were later shared via Twitter. "The act of diving itself constituted a serious violation of British sovereignty but this apparent interference with the reef is a new and worrying aspect," said the Gibraltar Governor, Sir Adrian Johns. The police action was a "blatant attempt" to exercise jurisdiction in waters over which Gibraltar claims sovereignty, he said."
As we said summer madness!
The action has been condemned by Gibraltar as a unhelpful stunt. They claim the the artificial reef does not significantly hamper Spanish fishermen but simply gives young sea life a chance to survive and flourish.
There are claims that Spanish fishermen were over fishing in the area, which led to the British run government of Gibraltar building the "reef" of 70 concrete blocks in the sea. Gibraltar claims this will help protect fish stocks and allow them to flourish. Spain maintains that Gib has no right to do this as the waters are Spanish.
As usual it does not take long for spats to become farcical.
UK PM David Cameron lodged a complaint to the EU after Spanish police caused huge delays at the border crossing to the Rock aka Gibraltar. The days could cripple the tourist economy of Gibraltar and make travel in and out of the sovereign country lengthy. Last weekend Spanish Fishermen took to their vessels to protest at sea.
It is a little like which came first the chicken or the egg, if you try to portion out blame. The reef may be seen by some as a step too far but Spanish overfishing could decimate the area. The root of the problem of course lies way back when. It is firmly stuck in is Gibraltar Spanish or British? This means that each time there is a squabble it quickly escalates out of control.
The BBC details Spain's view of Gibraltar as:
"From AD711 to 1462 Gibraltar was under Moorish rule, like most of Spain. Spain (initially Castile) controlled the territory from 1462 to 1704. Its political status between 1704 and 1713 was that of a territory occupied by allied Anglo-Dutch forces during the War of the Spanish Succession. Gibraltar's sovereign status between 1713 and 1880 was that of a territory taken by right of conquest, but legitimised in the form of a cession to the British (Article X, Treaty of Utrecht, 1713, Appendix I)."
Great Britain views Gibraltar differently:
"Anglo-Dutch forces captured the fortress of Gibraltar in 1704, during the War of the Spanish Succession. It was formally ceded to the British in perpetuity under Article X of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. The Gibraltar territory was designated a Crown Colony in 1830 and was listed as such by the UN in 1946. In 1964, the Gibraltar Constitution was introduced and promulgated in 1969, stipulating that sovereign status would not be changed without the consent of Gibraltar's people."