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Solving Gibraltar

Sensitivity and diplomacy are the best way forward.

Submitted by George Callaghan…

Gibraltar was wrested from Spain in 1704. The Flags of Scotland and England were planted thereupon. The War of Spanish Succession was raging. When the war was concluded with the Peace of Utrecht 1713 the Spanish agreed that the United Kingdom could keep Gibraltar subject to certain provisos. No Jew or Mohammedan was ever to be suffered to settle upon this peninsula. Some clauses of the said treaty deal asiento (with the right to buy and sell African people). Considering the unconscionable content of some of the Treaty of Utrecht some ask whether such a treaty can still be upheld. However, it is quite possible to sever the causes that now cause people to recoil in horror and keep the clauses which are acceptable. Should the United Kingdom ever renounced Gibraltar it is to be handed to Spain. It cannot be sold, granted independence or in any wise entailed away to another entity. Incidentally, the said treaty only grants the British control over certain parts of Gibraltar and not all of the area that the UK now rules.

Many Spanish people would like Gibraltar to be returned to them. As negotiations for a long term settlement of trade issues between the UK and the European Union the Gibraltar question is coming to a head. Madrid may make agreeing to an decent trade deal with the United Kingdom contingent upon major concessions viz-a-vis Gibraltar.

The Spanish case for the restitution of Gibraltar is partly because this land was theirs. Yes, it was Spanish for about 200 years prior to it becoming British. Before the Spanish acquired it through force the Moors had had it for centuries. They in turn had taken it by the sword from the people of Andalucia. Twas ever thus! The United Kingdom has possessed Gibraltar for longer than Spain ever did. Even if the Spaniards do not recognise British sovereignty over Gibraltar there are squatter’s rights. Adverse possession can confer legal ownership.

Gibraltar was acquired by force of arms. This is true of most places. Right of conquest was considered valid until the 20th century. That did not mean that in the 20th century every border was redrawn to undo every conquest. That would be a recipe for chaos. You cannot unscramble and omlette. Spain rules Ceuta and Melilla. These exclaves lie on the northern littoral of Africa. They are adjacent to Morocco and the Moroccans claims these areas. Ceuta and Melilla are visible from Gibraltar. Why is it that these territories rightfully pertain to Spain but Gibraltar cannot be a crown dependency of the United Kingdom? The double standard is plain to see. Spain has held sovereignty over those two African towns for 500 odd years. What is the moral difference between 300+ years and 500+ years?

Spain recognised that the UK rightful owns Gibraltar. Spain could of course have refused to sign Utrecht if British possession of the peninsula was unacceptable. If you wish to void Utrecht saying it was signed under duress then the war has to continue. That would be ludicrous. Every peace agreement was signed under duress by that rationale. The United Kingdom held more Spanish territory but restored it to Spain pursuant to Utrecht. The UK returned Menorca some decades later.

Spain and the United Kingdom have been allies on many occasions since 1704. Among them are the Peninsular War and UN missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That most Gibraltarians wish to be British is indisputable. In a referendum 99% of them voted to stay British. They pro-Spanish side was allowed to campaign freely. No one has ever said that the referendum was another other than fair.

The United Kingdom should not be haughty on the Gibraltarian issue. London ought to recognise that there is a little merit to the Spanish cause. Therefore, sensitivity and diplomacy are the best way forward.

It is doubtful that there was ever an international dispute when one side was 100% right and they other was 100% wrong. How can the desire of the Gibraltarians to remain a crown dependency be squared with the Spanish aspiration to regain lost land?

The UK ought to make some concessions and show sensitivity. A reasonable and amicable spirited offer ought to be made taking account of Spanish attitudes and the modicum of logic and justice that underlies their case. There are already Spanish signs up in Gibraltar. Many Gibraltarians are of Spanish blood. In many cases they shifted to British loam because of the religious freedom and political freedom that was afforded to them in Gibraltar.

What else could the United Kingdom do to accommodate the Spanish? The UK could pay some money to the Spanish. How about an arrival tax of one pound per person paid to the Spanish in perpetuity? If Spain wishes to interpret that as rent or compensation that would be up to them. Declaring the King of Spain the joint sovereign of Gibraltar it being clearly understood that his government would have no say in Gibraltar might salvage the situation somewhat. Hoisting la sangre y oro beside the Union Flag could also deal with wounded pride. Declaring the Euro to be legal tender alongside the sterling could also help as well as be of practical benefit. Agreeing never to station over a certain number of troops or any nuclear arms would also help perhaps.

Would joint authority or a condominium be out of the question? That might be unworkable. But different options should be examined. The aim is to find solutions and not problems.

At the moment phone calls to Gibraltar have to be routed through the UK not Spain. Spain blocks Gibraltar from participating in any sporting or cultural event. As recently as the 1980s the Spanish closed the border for years. If the United Kingdom were flexible the Spanish might be persuaded to adopt a more reasonable posture.

It would be foolish to adopt a blind, immature and chauvinistic posture. Broadmindedness and generosity of spirt is the only way forward.

It might be that no agreement can be arrived at. In which case long term trade negotiations might be difficult. Spain could up the ante and say it will not agree to a long term trade deal with the UK without receiving Gibraltar outright. The Spanish could block the border at La Linea de Concepcion as they once did for 20 years.

Viva la Amistad!

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Olivia Kroth
June 22, 2020

“Gibraltar was wrested from Spain in 1704” and must be given back to Spain, in 2020, just like the Malvinas must be given back to Argentina, in 2020. The age of British robber baronism has ended.

JerryBear
JerryBear
Reply to  Olivia Kroth
June 22, 2020

Peoples of a particular land should be free to decide for themselves their own self determination.
 
You say Gibralta and the Falklands MUST be handed back. Why? There is no obligation to especially given the people who’ve lived their for generations do not wish to.
 
No doubt those like yourself believe Crimea should be handed back to Ukraine irrespective of what the people of Crimea want.
 
But when it comes to areas under Spanish rule such as Ceuta and Melilla, unsurprisingly we can almost hear your gears crashing in reverse.

Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of Land Management
Reply to  JerryBear
June 22, 2020

It’s just revenge politics. It’s all the rage these days.

JerryBear
JerryBear
Reply to  Bureau of Land Management
June 22, 2020

Revenge for what?

Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of Land Management
Reply to  JerryBear
June 23, 2020

You figure it out. It ain’t that hard.

JerryBear
JerryBear
Reply to  Bureau of Land Management
June 25, 2020

You don’t know either then.

Smoking Eagle
Smoking Eagle
Reply to  JerryBear
June 22, 2020

I can hear the gears crashing in reverse too. The international community recognizes the Golan Heights to be official Syrian territory and widely rejects Israeli military occupation. Didn’t Trump recently approve of Israhell annexing the Golan Heights? Hmm. I seem to remember the US being up in arms over what it called the annexation of Crimea by Russia. What hypocrites people are!

Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of Land Management
Reply to  Olivia Kroth
June 22, 2020

British slave ships from North Africa used Gibraltar as a transit port. Need I say more?

JerryBear
JerryBear
Reply to  Bureau of Land Management
June 22, 2020

Yep. You could have added who were buying the slaves.

Curious George
Curious George
Reply to  JerryBear
June 23, 2020

Libyans?
 
Libya slave trade – CNN, USAToday, Newsweek, Time, etc. etc.
November 17, 2017. Libya opens an investigation into slave markets operating in the country following CNN’s exclusive report.
 
A development so egregious that even the Obama friendly MSM can’t see fit to whitewash it.

ManintheMoon
ManintheMoon
Reply to  Bureau of Land Management
June 22, 2020

Actually Europeans were the main slaves traded on the Barbary Coast. They were taken in their hundreds of thousands from coastal villages and towns raided all along the Mediterranean and from as far away as Cornwall. It was not until Europeans finally stopped fighting each other after Waterloo that the British and Dutch navies finally were able to put an end to the trade (as they did subsequently to the African slave trade – let’s not forget!). On another note, the Falkland Islands have never belonged to Argentina – they were again taken from Spain long before Argentina ever existed.… Read more »

Last edited 20 days ago by ManintheMoon
The Thinking Cap
The Thinking Cap
Reply to  ManintheMoon
June 23, 2020

So was Puerto Rico. So, Puerto Rico can now vote to decide to leave the US if it chooses (or so they say) but the US denies Crimea the right to vote to leave Ukraine, where it ended up by an unconstitutional soviet edict in the first place. The US is a non-entity as far as these things go. Irrelevant to the thinking man.

Smoking Eagle
Smoking Eagle
Reply to  Olivia Kroth
June 22, 2020

Britain didn’t take the Falklands from Argentina. You call the islands Malvinas, but do you realize that “Malvinas” is a corruption of “Malouines”? The first people to arrive and build a settlement on the islands were French fishermen from St. Malo, hence “Malouines”. The islands were not inhabited. The islands changed ownership a few times between the Spanish and British. When the British finally took control of the islands, they were still uninhabited by any indigenous population. Spain established the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata in 1776, over what are now the countries of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and… Read more »

Sancho Panza
Sancho Panza
June 22, 2020

Solving Gibraltar? Easy. Just give the Brits the boot. I’d say it’s the keystone that would crumble their empire to rubble, if they still had one.

The American Exceptionalist
The American Exceptionalist
Reply to  Sancho Panza
June 22, 2020

Not to worry. As long as the Brits do as they’re told and bark on command, they’ll always be our cabana boy.
 

Last edited 20 days ago by The American Exceptionalist
JerryBear
JerryBear
Reply to  The American Exceptionalist
June 22, 2020

True. But exactly the same could be said of the Spanish as long as they bark on the American command …

The Thinking Cap
The Thinking Cap
Reply to  JerryBear
June 23, 2020

Nobody barks (or whines) like a Brit. Well, Israel maybe but they’re joined at the hip anyway.

Olivia Kroth
Reply to  The Thinking Cap
June 23, 2020

The Brits have this special elegant nasal whine, especially when someone gives them the boot.

JerryBear
JerryBear
Reply to  Olivia Kroth
June 25, 2020

If you hadn’t already guessed I’m a Brit. And just like the overwhelming majority of us, believe in peoples’ self determination. For example with Northern Ireland and Scotland Joe Public are overwhelmingly ambivalent if the north want to join RoI and if Scotland wishes to become independent. Provided that’s what the ‘people’ who’ve lived their for generations want. And the same applies equally to Gibraltar, the Falklands. I say Crimea as well but that doesn’t fit with the neo-liberal establishment. This is how things should be in today’s world that claims to be against resolving conflict with violence   Others… Read more »

JerryBear
JerryBear
Reply to  The Thinking Cap
June 25, 2020

Pot calling the kettle black.
 
You’re whining pretty good yourself just because Gibraltar and its people want to remain British.

JerryBear
JerryBear
Reply to  Sancho Panza
June 22, 2020

What empire … doh! But who’s going to boot them out of Gibralta, the Spanish? … LOL

Smoking Eagle
Smoking Eagle
Reply to  JerryBear
June 22, 2020

Gibraltar was very convenient for Franco. Whenever he wanted to divert Spaniards’ attention away from some nefarious thing he was up to, he would stir up the Gibraltar issue.

JerryBear
JerryBear
Reply to  Smoking Eagle
June 25, 2020

Indeed. Galtieri was the same.

Smoking Eagle
Smoking Eagle
Reply to  Sancho Panza
June 22, 2020
  • For Gawd’s sake! It’s a rock, a 2.3 square mile peninsula. The airport is just 500 yards from the town centre. Its only runway crosses Gibraltar’s busiest road with vehicles and pedestrians brought to a standstill at traffic lights as planes arrive and depart. Gibraltar came under Muslim Moorish rule in 711 AD and Moors occupied the rock for seven centuries. They called it Jebel Tariq – the Mount of Tariq, which was later corrupted into Gibraltar. Maybe solve the problem by giving it back to the Moors.
The Thinking Cap
The Thinking Cap
Reply to  Smoking Eagle
June 23, 2020

It’s the gateway to the Mediterranean, much as Turkey controls the gateway to the Black Sea. America will go to war to retain control of either one. Why do you think they spent so much of other’s blood and treasure trying to occupy Crimea, the foil to the Black Sea’s gateway? That’s the long and the short of it.

Ken
Ken
June 22, 2020

Gibraltar is going nowhere with the Tories in charge. If Spain hang around until a Labour government get in Charge they might have a chance then

JerryBear
JerryBear
Reply to  Ken
June 25, 2020

With Keir Starmer at the Labour helm, read Tony B Liar but without the slick panache.
 
I wouldn’t hold your breath if I were you.

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