INTERNATIONAL relations face further tension after a Spanish warship entered British-controlled waters around Gibraltar, disrupting a Royal Navy training exercise.
The British Foreign Office will issue a ‘formal protest’, which will take the form of a diplomatic letter.
The Navy training exercise had to be suspended by military chiefs while a Gibraltar Squadron patrol boat guided the Spanish ship away from the area, after the infringement on Tuesday.
A department spokesman for the Foreign Office said it would raise the incursion at a ‘high level’.
A Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesman said the Royal Navy challenges “all unlawful incursions into British Gibraltar territorial waters.”
He added: “There should be no doubt that the MoD remains absolutely committed to ensuring the defence and security of Gibraltar.”
This latest development adds to the already complicated relationship between Britain and Spain, after the sinking of concrete blocks last year for Gibraltar’s artificial reef project.
Spain complained that these blocks would cause problems for their fishing industry, and shortly afterwards imposed strict controls at the border with Gibraltar.
Britain and Gibraltar argued that these checks were politically motivated but the European Commission ruled that the border checks had not infringed any European law.
Britain lodged a previous formal complaint to Spanish authorities in November last year, after a diplomatic bag was opened by police at the border with Gibraltar.
The British Foreign Office said at the time that diplomatic bags were ‘inviolable’, and to open one was a ‘serious infringement’ of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.