Spain has backed Argentina’s call for sovereignty talks with the UK over the Falklands, insisting that it wants the same in respect of Gibraltar.
The Spanish statement comes after Argentina’s new conservative government reiterated the country’s claims on the Falklands, calling on Britain to start talks on the islands’ sovereignty “as soon as possible”.
Today the Spanish Government said it too wanted to negotiate with the UK over Gibraltar, “in line with UN resolutions”.
“In common with Argentina, Spain seeks bilateral dialogue with the United Kingdom to find a definitive solution to both issues that impact on the territorial integrity of Argentina and Spain,” the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Madrid said in a statement.
The statement drew an immediate reaction from the British and Gibraltar governments, which both dismissed any suggestion of bilateral sovereignty talks against the wishes of the Gibraltarians.
“Our position on the sovereignty of Gibraltar is unchanged,” a spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said.
“We will protect the right of the people of Gibraltar to determine their political future. The UK will never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another State against their wishes.”
“Furthermore, the UK will not enter into any process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content. We believe that dialogue involving the UK, Spain and Gibraltar, remains the best means to make progress towards a better relationship with Spain over Gibraltar in the long term.”
The Gibraltar Government said in a statement that the sovereignty of Gibraltar was not a matter for discussion or negotiation with Spain.
“The United Kingdom has declared that the people of Gibraltar enjoy the right to self-determination and that we will never pass on to the sovereignty of another state against our wishes,” No 6 Convent Place said. “The UK has also agreed not to enter into a process of negotiations with Spain with which Gibraltar is not content.”
“This means that Spain’s recently expressed hope for a resumption of bilateral UK-Spain talks on the sovereignty of Gibraltar is at best unrealistic and at worst raising false hopes.”
“Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar will never consent to the United Kingdom entering into any process of talks, discussions or negotiations with Spain in respect of the Sovereignty of Gibraltar.”
“We would wish to see Spain finally come into the twenty first century and abandon its medieval claim to Gibraltar and the unacceptable way in which it has recently aggressively pursued it.”
The government of Argentina’s President Macri struck a more diplomatic tone than the angry denunciations of his predecessor, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, but the message remained the same.
A statement released by Argentina’s foreign ministry on the anniversary of the start of British rule of the islands on January 3, 1833, invited the UK “to resume as soon as possible negotiations aimed at settling fairly and definitively, the sovereignty dispute over the Malvinas [Falklands] islands, South Georgia, South Sandwich islands and surrounding territorial seas”.
It added: “Argentina renews its firm commitment to peacefully settling its differences, to international law and multilateralism.”
Britain and Argentina fought a two-month war over the Falklands in 1982 that cost the lives of 255 Britons and 649 Argentinians.
In 2013, a referendum showed that 99.8 per cent of the islanders wanted it to remain a British overseas territory.
The British Government has repeatedly vowed to uphold the rights and wishes of both Gibraltar and the Falklands to remain British and determine their own future.