Cameron warns Spanish PM Gibraltar spat could damage ties

Cameron warns Spanish PM Gibraltar spat could damage ties

LONDON – Agence France-Presse
Cameron warns Spanish PM Gibraltar spat could damage ties

In this April 8, 2013 file photo, Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, left, shake hands with British Prime Minister David Cameron before a meeting at the Moncloa Palace, in Madrid. British Prime Minister David Cameron says he has had a "constructive" phone conversation with Spanish premier Mariano Rajoy amid tensions over the British enclave of Gibraltar. AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza, File

British Prime Minister David Cameron Aug.7 warned his Spanish counterpart that the Gibraltar border tensions risked damaging relations between London and Madrid.

Cameron also told Mariano Rajoy in a telephone conversation that Britain’s stance on Gibraltar’s sovereignty would not change.

The British prime minister called Rajoy “to raise serious concerns about actions by the Spanish at the border with Gibraltar”, a Downing Street spokeswoman said.

The British premier said the issue “should not damage our bilateral relations. However there was a real risk of this happening unless the situation at the border improved,” the spokeswoman said.

Gibraltar had accused Spain of deliberately holding up cars entering the tiny British overseas territory by searching every vehicle and creating delays of up to six hours during the last weekend in July.

Gibraltar’s chief minister argued that the heightened border checks were in retaliation over its decision to build an artificial reef in surrounding waters, aimed at stopping alleged incursions by Spanish fishing boats in waters around the peninsula which Madrid claims as its own.

Rajoy has told Cameron that Gibraltar’s move to build the reef was “unacceptable,” a Spanish government statement said.

Tensions rose further over the weekend when Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo suggested that Madrid could impose a $66 charge to cross the Gibraltar border in either direction.