Miguel Angel Moratinos will today become the first Spanish government minister to set foot in Gibraltar for more than 300 years.
The Foreign Minister will hold trilateral talks with his British counterpart, David Milliband, and Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, Peter Caruana. Spain ceded Gibraltar to Britain in 1704 but has long maintained it should be returned to Spanish sovereignty. Moratinos has faced criticism at home over his visit. “This means an acknowledgement of the status of talks with the Gibraltar authorities. Until now, the Spanish government has avoided discussions with the Gibraltar government because that would have meant recognising Gibraltar’s independent status, an existence of absolute equality between the government of Gibraltar and Spain,” said José Maria Ridao, a former Spanish diplomat. The meeting will go ahead despite a last-minute row over territorial waters around the Rock, which Madrid claimed under an EU environmental directive. Officials said it had been temporarily resolved but gave no details. Gibraltar is to challenge the decision in the European Court of Justice.