Gibraltar is the British territory, located at the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula, which was formally part of Spanish territory. Ever since 1704 Spain and Britain have fought over the rights for claiming the territory of Gibraltar. In 1704 the British captured Gibraltar during the Spanish Succession War, which followed with the Spanish ceding of Gibraltar to the British in 1713 through the Treaty of Utrecht. Since that time Spain has tried everything in its power to reclaim this territory, whether it be military sieges or by peaceful means. The only problem is that the Gibraltarians want nothing to do with the Spanish. They would rather be under British rule than Spanish. In 2002 British government casted a “sovereignty referendum” ballet in Gibraltar, to see whether or not the Gibraltarians wanted to share sovereignty of the territory with Spain and Britain. But the Gibraltarians heavily rejected this concept of joint sovereignty as they sided with the British. In fact “98 percent” of the citizens voted no for joint sovereignty between Spain and Britain and “no political parties support a union with Spain”, demonstrating the Gibraltarians’ resentment of Spain (Daly, NY Times).
The major problem with Spain’s attempts for sovereignty of Gibraltar is the lack of support for Spain from the Gibraltarians. The British life style has taken over this area, as most of the citizens from “Italy, Malta, and Portugal” have adapted quickly and enjoy this life (AFP). One Gibraltarian showed his pride for being a British citizen stating, “I was born British and I want to die British”(Daly, NY Times). Another Gibraltarian man stated, “because we are so tiny Spain takes advantage. We don’t trust them; it’s as simple as that. We don’t trust Spain” (Daly, NY Times). Some of this Gibraltarian hatred towards Spain, emerged from the actions of Francisco Franco as he “closed the border in 1969” and in result, families were “separated, people were stuck on the rock, and Gibraltarians could not reach their work in Spain” (Daly, NY Times).
The Gibraltarians are starting to get frustrated with the British because since they are classified as a colony, the people believe that they “have the same right to self-determination as any other colony”(Daly, NY Times). As one Mr. Caruana said, ”Gibraltar is not a problem between Britain and Spain; Gibraltar is about the democratic rights of 30,000 colonial subjects to decide their future”(Daly, NY Times). And because Britain continues to have an open door about one day Spain sharing the ownership of this territory, this upsets the Gibraltarians, who still have no desire to be owned by Spain. And after the 2002 referendum, many Gibraltarians lost trust in the British government, as they were confuse as to why Britain was giving Spain this opportunity to claim ownership of the territory when they clearly had been against the idea.
On Thursday, March 31st, Britain’s Prince Charles and his wife Camilla ate dinner with pain’s Crown Prince Felipe in Madrid in which they discussed “the territorial rights of Gibraltar, the economic situation of both countries and Europe, social policies, the situation in North Africa and the Middle East, and the nuclear accident as well as environmental issues” (AFP) This is one of the pairs stop on a three-nation tour (Spain, Morocco and Portugal) aimed at promoting trade and investment. The main task discussed by Charles and Felipe was the “two countries need to solve their “bilateral dispute” over Gibraltar” after the series of face-offs by the two countries in the surrounding waters of Gibraltar last year (AFP). Britain is open to discussion about another attempt at joint-sovereignty of the territory, but will the Gibraltarians accept the offer this time? As history has shown it looks like a long shot and Spain may never be able to reclaim the rights of Gibraltar without military force.
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