The tension between the Spanish and the British security forces stretched over another few degrees, when Spain openly refused to allow the Royal Air Force to use the airspace near Gibraltar for military exercise purposes.
A British forces spokesman said that last Wednesday was the second day of training exercises and 6 British F3 Tornado aircrafts took part in the training exercise. The southern area of the Alboran training zone lies in the Western Mediterranean, which is under the control of Moroccan authorities – whereas, the northern region falls under the Spanish zone. While Spain has clearly denied the use of its airspace, Rabat on the other hand, has granted access to the planes for using the Moroccan airspace.
The spokesman informed that initially an application was submitted to the Spanish for the grant of their airspace. Whilst, the Spanish refused our “requests”, the Moroccans gave us authority to carry on with our training sessions in the southern half – said the spokesman.
Last Monday, the 6 Tornado aircrafts from the 111 Squadron base in RAF Leuchras – Scotland, flew in towards Gibraltar. The entire span of the exercise is going to be spread over 2 weeks. A Spanish foreign ministry source said that the refusal came as “part” of the “normal” relations between Spain and Britain, concerning issues regarding Gibraltar.
Gibraltar has been the cause of tension between Spain and Britain for a long time, with Madrid making demands for the return of the 6.4 square kilometer territory. However, Spain’s proposal for co-sovereignty was heavily opposed in the 2002 referendum and so far, there hasn’t been any end result to this fiasco.