Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Friday that his meetings here with British counterpart David Cameron “have laid the foundation for a dialogue” to address recent bilateral frictions over Gibraltar.
The “personal connection is good” and the two conversations the leaders had on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in St. Petersburg “have been useful,” the Spaniard told reporters at the conclusion of the international conclave.
“Obviously whenever two people talk it produces a better situation than if those two people don’t talk,” Rajoy said. “It’s evident that there is a problem and no one has an interest in having problems, and it’s evident there has to be dialogue.”
While calling for caution, the Spanish prime minister said he was confident the situation “will end well for everyone.”
The conversations in St. Petersburg took place at Cameron’s request.
The latest flap over Gibraltar, a British Overseas Possession sitting at the tip of the Iberian peninsula, began when the local administration on the Rock dropped 70 concrete blocks into the Mediterranean with the aim of forming an artificial reef.
The reef project violates the European Union’s environmental regulations and threatens the livelihoods of Spanish fishermen, according to Madrid, which imposed new border checks that have led to hours-long waits for people entering and leaving Gibraltar.
Responding to individual complaints from Spain and Britain, the European Commission launched separate probes of the reef project and the new border controls.
The G-20 gathering marks the first time Rajoy and Cameron have met face-to-face since the current dispute arose, though they discussed the matter by telephone last month.
Gibraltar, a territory of 5.5 sq. kilometers (2.1 sq. miles) at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, has been held by Britain since 1704 and became a British Crown Colony in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht.