HMS Westminster
Royal navy frigate HMS Westminster leaves Portsmouth harbour on its way to Gibraltar [Reuters].

Although the Treaty of Utrecht transferring the sovereignty of Gibraltar was signed by Spain and the UK 300 years ago, the conflict between the two countries regarding this British overseas territory shows no sign of being resolved. The suspension of border control checks by Spanish authorities, after Gibraltar dumped a concrete reef in disputed fishing waters off Gibraltar's main runway, have caused queues for up to five hours at the border between Spain and Gibraltar. Both governments are now pondering legal action, which may include Spain seeking United Nations support and the UK taking "unprecedented" measures.

The question of Gibraltar, while it is undoubtedly taken seriously in both Spain and the UK, is viewed very differently by each country. British people, even British citizens living in Spain, pay much less attention to the conflict in this small territory than Spanish people, who consider Gibraltar not just a question of sovereignty but also a question of pride. Most Spaniards believe Gibraltar should return to Spain one day, to end what they view as the nonsense of a British territory on Spanish soil. One person I spoke to bridled against the fact that, "after 300 years, Spain has been unable to recover this territory and the UK just uses Gibraltar as a place to carry out disgusting, polemic actions that they don't want to make in other places".

However Gibraltarians seems to be happy with their actual status. As a British territory, they have services, such a small airport with regular traffic to and from the main British cities, and a commercial presence that they would not have if under Spanish rule. English is the most widely spoken language among the local population and the Gibraltarian culture has nothing to do with the culture existing on the other side of the border. Prices on goods such as technology or alcohol are cheaper and the boutiques found on the Royal Mile, the main road of Gibraltar, offer exclusive brands.

For me, as a Spaniard that has lived in several countries including the UK, Gibraltar is an amazing place to feel abroad after walking just a few minutes, but not all Spanish people think in the same way. Spaniards feel a mix of curiosity and sadness when they visit Gibraltar for the first time. They want to know what a British territory in Spain feels like - whether it keeps the British culture or is just a mix between the cultures of Spain and the UK. But at the same time, this curiosity is accompanied by the feeling of having lost a part of their country's territory and knowing there is a good chance they will never recover it.

However I cannot share the point of view of most of the Spanish people, since it does not take into account the opinion of Gibraltarians. I think that Gibraltar should be able to decide how it wants to be ruled in the future and Spain and the UK must respect the decision of Gibraltarians in all cases, whether they want to stay in the UK or want to be Spanish. But they should also accept a declaration of independence by Gibraltar, should the people decide that is what they want.