Minister's visit sparks new row over Rock
30 July 2004, GIBRALTAR – A fresh row over the 300th anniversary of Gibraltar blew up Friday when it was revealed British defence secretary Geoff Hoon is to attend celebrations next week.
30 July 2004
GIBRALTAR – A fresh row over the 300th anniversary of Gibraltar blew up Friday when it was revealed British defence secretary Geoff Hoon is to attend celebrations next week.
The Spanish daily El Mundo reported Friday Hoon was expected to attend the ceremony to mark the tercentenary of the Rock on 4 August.
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero marked his first 100 days in power earlier this week by saying the only thing to mar his administration so far was a diplomatic row over the arrival of a British nuclear submarine at Gibraltar.
The Tireless caused a row between Madrid and London, which only ended when the submarine left earlier this month.
Madrid has condemned the anniversary celebrations and has labelled the visit of Hoon, a "high-standing minister", as the third mistake made by London over the Rock this year.
Apart from the visit of The Tireless, the arrival of Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, in the colony to mark the anniversary, caused another row between Britain and Spain.
Zapatero said earlier this week: "I would have liked it if the Tireless had not visited Gibraltar and though it was only there for a few days, I would have preferred if it had not come."
Madrid said it would have preferred if it was not a cabinet minister marking the anniversary.
The anniversary celebrations will begin Saturday morning with the arrival of three Royal Navy ships, the frigate, HMS Grafton, and two auxiliaries, the RFA Sir Tristram and RFA Fort Austin.
They will be open for visitors during the celebrations.
Hoon said Friday it was important to visit the Rock because it would be "full of veterans of the Gulf War".
London said the minister saw it as a "great honour" to receive the title of the Freedom of Gibraltar, with which he will be presented next week.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news