A newly released poll shows nearly two - thirds of people in Spain support Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s tough stance on the disputed British territory of Gibraltar.
The survey released on Sunday by Spain’s leading think-tank Real Instituto Elcano showed 62.8 percent of those questioned believed Rajoy and his Conservative government’s current pressure on Gibraltar was “good” or “very good.” The poll also revealed that almost half or 48.1 percent support “very much” or “quite a lot” Madrid’s proposal to close Spain’s airspace to flights arriving or leaving the British territory, while 46.2 percent also wanted to shut the land border with Gibraltar. The latest tensions between Spain and Britain arose in mid-July after authorities in Gibraltar dumped 70 blocks of concrete in waters close the territory’s coast, aimed at creating an artificial reef. However, Spain denounced the action, saying the British territory dumped the blocks “without any type of authorization and breaking several environmental norms” and considered it as “an environmental crime.” In addition, Madrid said the concrete blocks seriously damaged the fishery, making it impossible for Spanish fishing boats to work in the area. On August 5, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo proposed several retaliatory measures towards Gibraltar, which included in addition to the airspace closure, a 50-euro fee to enter or leave Gibraltar and tax investigations of thousands of Gibraltarians who own property in Spain. Spain has also increased its border control to Gibraltar prompting criticism from the British government, as people had to wait up to seven hours to pass the border. Madrid argues that the increased searches are necessary since Gibraltar is not a member of Schengen. Gibraltar is one of the British Overseas Territories, which is on the United Nations list of areas waiting decolonization. The British territory was seized from Spain in 1713 and remains a bone of contention between the two European countries.