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Great Britain vows to resolve reef issue with Spain by political means

Aug. 5, 2013 at 10:47 AM   |   Comments

LONDON, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- The sovereignty of Gibraltar won't be compromised by Britain in its latest confrontation with Spain over development of a reef, the British Foreign Office said.

Frederico Trillo, the Spanish ambassador to Britain, was summoned to the Foreign Office Friday to explain checkpoint delays at the Gibraltar-Spain border over the development of a reef, which Spain says has harmed Spanish fishing areas, the Foreign Office said Sunday in release.

"Our differences with Spain on Gibraltar will be resolved by political means through our relationship as [European Union] partners, not through disproportionate measures such as the border delays," the Foreign Office statement said. "We have many common interests with Spain and wish to continue to have a strong relationship at every level with the government of Spain."

During July, Spain increased border checks, leaving drivers waiting in line for hours, CNN reported.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Garcia-Margallo also has suggested imposing a 50 euro fee on all vehicles as they enter or leave Gibraltar.

Garcia-Margallo said the money would be directed to fishermen whose fishing grounds suffered alleged damage by authorities in Gibraltar. The British territory has been working to develop an artificial reef.

"Disruption to border flows has a direct impact on the prosperity and well-being of communities on both sides of the border," said Hugo Swire, foreign and commonwealth office minister of state. "The [British] government's position is that these delays are unjustified, unacceptable and have no place at a border between EU partners."

British officials said they are abiding by agreements with Spain and expected the Spanish government do to the same.

"In the meantime, we will be seeking an explanation from Spain following reports that the Spanish government might target Gibraltar with further measures," the statement said.

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