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Algeciras Mayor’s comments after incursion ‘outrageous’, CM says

Photo by Eyleen Gomez

Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, has called the Mayor of Algeciras, Jose Ignacio Landaluce, comments to the Spanish media following an incursion into Gibraltar waters “wrong and outrageous”.

On Monday night Spanish Customs vessel, Aguila 2, entered British Gibraltar Territorial Waters, boarded a locally registered vessel and attempted to take executive action.

Mr Landaluce told the Spanish press he supports the actions of the Customs officer, adding the waters were Spanish.

In response, Mr Picardo rebuked these comments stating the waters surrounding Gibraltar are exclusively British.

He pointed out how Mr Landaluce’s attitude to Gibraltar has also previously prevented cooperation from flourishing.
“This is not only set out under Gibraltar Law but is also provided for under Public International Law, namely, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Mr Picardo said.

“If he wants, I am happy to send Snr Landaluce a copy of the Convention and take him through it. I will also happily explain the lack of effect that the reservation filed by Spain has in respect of the application of the Convention.”

"Additionally, Snr Landaluce might like to recall that Spain's former Ambassador to the United Nations (between 2000/4), Inocencio Arias (who was a Partido Popular appointee to the post), stated - in a personal capacity, rather than as an official position of the Spanish government - that Gibraltar did have territorial waters, despite Spain's longstanding claim to the contrary.”

Mr Picardo added this was a significant deviation from Spain's official stance, as Spain has long maintained that the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), which ceded Gibraltar to Britain, did not include the surrounding waters.
“Snr Landaluce should be reminded oft his when he makes points as fallacious as the points he was made today,” Mr Picardo said.

“The SVA Aguila 2 vessel entered BGTW and took executive action without notifying any of the Gibraltar authorities. This is totally unacceptable and is why I have asked the United Kingdom Government to forcefully raise this with Spain.”

"Statements today in parts of the Spanish media actually quote the SVA officers talking about a sailing boat or ‘velero’, which shows they are making up their version of events. The vessel in question is a port tender without a sail.”

“That shows that the version of events of the SVA officers is entirely unreliable and Snr Landaluce should have greater regard for the information put into the public domain by Gibraltar and not the untrue version of events being bandied about in Spain.”

Mr Picardo said that Mr Landaluce knows Gibraltar’s waters are British but refuses to accept it, and called his “obsession” with Gibraltar unhealthy.

He described how this approach does not help in building that collegiate and prosperous relationship between Spain and Gibraltar.

Mr Picardo said the Government of Gibraltar would like to see a prosperous materialise, particularly, in the context of Treaty negotiations with the EU and Spain.

“I would gently tell Snr Landaluce that his attitude is what has prevented cooperation from flourishing before and if he has not yet learnt that the Gibraltarians do not react to bullying and to being told what to do by a Spanish politician, he had better pull his head out of the sand in which he has had it buried for the past 12 years,” Mr Picardo said.

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