Gibraltar accuses Spain of causing border delays

29th July 2013, Comments 0 comments

Gibraltar accused Madrid on Sunday of deliberately creating delays to car traffic to and from the disputed British-held territory to Spain.

Vehicles leaving Gibraltar have since Friday been made to wait nearly six hours to cross the border between Gibraltar and Spain as Spanish authorities searched "practically every vehicle", the government of Gibraltar said.

"The Spanish government has inflicted these unnecessary delays on the elderly, children and the infirm in up to 30 degrees of heat. This torture has resulted in an ambulance being deployed to treat people with medical conditions," it added in a statement.

A Spanish man who was caught in the queue to cross the border on Friday had to be taken to hospital with chest pains and the government of Gibraltar organsied the distribution of bottled water, the statement added.

The row over the border crossing follows earlier accusations of incursions by Spanish fishing boats into Gibraltar's territorial waters.

Gibraltar chief minister Fabian Picardo said he had "absolutely no doubt" that the border traffic delays were linked to a disagreement between Spain and Gibraltar over the placing of concrete blocks to create an artificial reef in Gibraltar's territorial waters.

"This is the way that Spain thinks it is appropriate to retaliate. They live obviously in a parallel universe if they think this will ever have any effect on government's decision making process or in the way Gibraltarians decide the issue of whether Gibraltar should be British or Spanish," he told the Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation.

A contractor hired by the government of Gibraltar placed concrete blocks into the sea around the territory in Spain's southern tip on Wednesday and Thursday to create an artificial reef.

Britain has held Gibraltar since 1713 but Spain wants it returned and refuses to recognise British sovereignty over the waters off the land known as 'the Rock'.

Tiny Gibraltar, just 6.8 square kilometres (2.6 square miles) and home to about 30,000 people, overlooks the only entrance to the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean.

© 2013 AFP

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