By Wendy Williams
GIBRALTAR has called on the British navy to help defend its borders against Spain.
The Rock’s first minister asked the military to step in after a series of ‘incursions’ into what it claims is not Spanish water.
While the British government has so far ignored the pleas, a spokesman confirmed that the Royal Navy was “already present” and had a “well defined role in Gibraltar”.
Tensions have mounted after a string of run-ins between police in Spain and Gibraltar and after Spain’s foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos declared that “there are no Gibraltar waters”.
It also comes after border town of La Linea threatened to introduce a controversial toll for all visitors to the enclave.
In a televised address to Rock residents, leader Peter Caruana said he had asked foreign secretary William Hague to take ‘effective action.’
He added: ‘This should include the systematic deployment and intervention of the Royal Navy in support and protection of the Gibraltar police as they carry out their duties.’
The hard-hitting message came a day after Gibraltar unexpectedly pulled out of tripartite talks with the UK and Spain over the Rock’s future.
The British colony cited ‘technical reasons’ for its decision to postpone meetings due to take place this week.
Caruana added: “If Mr Mo-atinos is convinced that under international law the waters around Gibraltar are not British, then you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by bringing this matter to the International Court of Justice.”
In particular, he cited the incident last month in which the Guardia Civil entered the territorial waters and fought with officers of the Royal Gibraltar Police, over a suspected Spanish smuggler they had detained.
He said: “It is difficult to imagine a more serious incident in the context both of challenge to sovereignty and jurisdiction.”
The British enclave – ceded to Britain by Spain in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht – has long been a source of controversy with Madrid arguing it should be returned to Spanish sovereignty.