dijous, 1 d’agost de 2013

Send us gunboats*

BRITAIN must send Royal Navy warships to Gibraltar or risk the “consequences” of an increasingly aggressive Spain, the Rock’s chief minister warned last night.



Fabian Picardo told the Sunday Express: “We all recall how Argentina took the absence of the right sort of Royal Navy vessels in the South Atlantic in the Eighties as encouragement to invade.
“I don’t believe Spain will invade, but I am seeing Spain becoming much more assertive in these waters as a result of the absence of the right size of naval presence. This could have consequences to British sovereignty which we are all careful to avoid.”
“I believe we need a much greater Royal Naval presence in our waters,”
His plea comes just days after the Rock celebrated the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Utrecht, which established Gibraltar as a British territory.
Spanish aggression has increased sharply since the country’s Popular Party headed by prime minster Mariano Rajoywas elected in 2011 on a manifesto that included ending talks between Spain, Gibraltar and the UK. Like Argentine president Cristina Kirchner, Mr Rajoy is thought to have deliberately inflamed tensions as a way of distracting voters from the nation’s economic woes.
While Spain has 40 per cent unemployment, Gibraltar’s economy grew by eight per cent last year, bolstered by its buoyant financial services industry and online gaming. About 10,000 Spaniards rely on Gibraltar for their livelihoods and the Rock is home to the world’s top 26 online betting companies.
In February a Royal Navy patrol boat found itself in a standoff with a Spanish warship after repeated requests to leave British waters were ignored and Minister for Europe David Lidington was forced to protest again after a Spanish police boat sailed into British waters and fired at a British jet-skier. Spanish fishermen are frequently defended during their illegal fishing of British waters by Spanish police boats.
In 2011 Madrid laid claim to an area of British waters as a nature reserve. Gibraltar lost its appeal to the European Court of Justice, and subsequently discovered one of the court’s judges was formerly Spain’s chief legal officer.

It is now 300 years since the Treaty of Utrecht gave Gibraltar to Britain 
Prince Charles meets the Royal Navy Cadets: Navy's presence is needed

Two weeks ago Gibraltar’s parliament voted to ask Britain for a greater Royal Navy presence and Mr Picardo said the two small, lightly armed patrol boats based in Gibraltar were not enough to deter Spanish aggression.
He added: “Spain wants to assert that these are Spanish waters. It is causing huge concern. Somebody needs to wake up and realise that we should assert British sovereignty.
“We need to drive the message home that these are very clearly British Gibraltar territorial waters.
“The Royal Navy uses Gibraltar as a rest and recreational base, and as a forward mounting base. Now we are saying please don’t just use us, come to our aid at this difficult time.”
Last night Commander John Muxworthy, of the armed forces pressure group UK National Defence Association, said: “This situation is becoming more aggressive by the day, and yet we have only two small patrol boats to stand up for Gibraltar and the UK.”
A Defence Ministry spokesman said: “The Royal Navy currently has sufficient assets to challenge unlawful incursions into British Gibraltar territorial waters by Spanish state vessels and remains committed to challenging any actions by Spanish state vessels which are unlawful.”
One of the Royal Navy’s nuclear powered submarines, HMS Tireless, is currently in Gibraltar for a short visit on its way to operations east of Suez.

* Notícia publicada a The Express. L'assetjament de l'Estat espanyol a Gibraltar continua, quelcom que li pot acabar passant factura. Només cal conèixer mínimament el Regne Unit per imaginar com acabarà aquest afer.

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