SPAIN’S new foreign minister has caused outrage among residents on the Rock after greeting a British MEP with the words ‘Gibraltar, Espanol’.
The tongue-in-cheek remark came as Tory MEP Charles Tannock congratulated Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo on his new job.
The exchange took place in front of live TV cameras at the end of a press conference in Strasbourg, prompting Tannock to reply, ‘We’ll have to talk about that’.
Although the remarks appeared to be a joke, it will be seen as a further sign of the Spanish government’s intention to regain sovereignty of Gibraltar.
Spain’s new government have made no secret of their desire to exclude Gibraltar from a tripartite forum on sovereignty talks.
Although the ruling PP party have not made any official comment since taking power, their pre-election manifesto states that “In relation to the Gibraltar dispute, we will recover the Brussels process.”
A spokesman for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office said: “The Spanish Government is well aware of our position on the sovereignty of Gibraltar.”
Margallo was in France to meet EU leaders including the President of the European Commission, the Economics Affairs commissioner and the new president of the European Parliament.