British citizens in Gibraltar call it a provocative move. The Spanish military says it was simply conducting maritime drills in the Strait of Gibraltar. Which is it?
Rabat – The Spanish Navy has sailed one of its vessels near the British territory of Gibraltar while blaring the Spanish national anthem.
Citizens of the small British territory were surprised to hear “La Marcha Real” playing at full volume as the Spanish corvette sailed by.
The Spanish ship allegedly sailed close enough to be considered illegal. However, the Spanish point out that Gibraltar has no territorial waters according to the 1713 Utrecht Treaty.
A video of the Descubierta-class ship Infanta Elena was posted Tuesday by a Gibraltar resident, according to Spanish news outlet The Local. It immediately drew a large amount of criticism from citizens of Gibraltar and the international community.
Spanish press were quick to defend the Navy’s actions, however, stating that the commander of Infanta Elena decided to play the Spanish anthem after the British played the UK’s anthem over a radio channel reserved for emergencies.
It is not the first time the British territory has had to deal with Spanish encroachment. In September, the British navy fired several warning shots at a Spanish vessel that got too close to its nuclear submarine the HMS Talent, according to the Dailymail.
A Telegraph report also says the British fired shots at a Spanish ship that got too close to an American submarine. The incidences led to the British creating a permanent response force to ward off the Spanish.
As Brexit comes closer, the future status of Gibraltar has come under question. Spain has always claimed sovereignty over Gibraltar, and as Britain withdraws itself from the rest of Europe, the Spanish are once again interested in the territory.
In November, a Spanish government spokeswoman said, “It is clear … that any agreement between the European Union and Britain require the prior approval of Spain, relating to Gibraltar,” according to Reuters.
The Spanish navy normally patrols the Strait of Gibraltar to monitor irregular migrants attempting to cross, usually from Morocco.