History : When London offered Gibraltar to Madrid exchanging it with a Moroccan territory

Even though the Moroccan State has toned down the territorial dispute over the possession of Gibraltar, the Kingdom was at the center of almost all the political solutions surrounding the Spanish-British disagreement over the control of the overseas territory. This was confirmed later through a letter that was sent in July 1940. 

Gibraltar./Ph. DR
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Gibraltar is an overseas territory that was subsequently ceded to Great Britain in perpetuity under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Spain since then asserted a claim to the territory which was refused by London. However, things took a different form in 1940, when the British refusal became exceptional. As a matter of fact, and most precisely in a document that dates back to the 7th of June 1940, Great Britain offered to cede Giblartar to Franco in exchange for Casablanca and Rabat that were back in the time under the sovereignty of the French. 

A British naval base in Morocco

Brigadier-General, Francisco Martin Moreno informed his superior, Minister of War José Enrique Varela, in a letter about the statement provided by Giblartar’s British Governor, General Liddell. The latter declared that he was ready to «suggest to his government to retrocede Gibraltar including its artillery in exchange for a small territory in Morocco, including Casablanca and Rabat to establish in the Atlantic coast a naval base from which England would be able to control, if necessary, the ships entering Gibraltar and heading to the Mediterranean and those leaving  the Atlantic», states the letter of Brigadier-General Francisco Martin Moreno.

We are at the beginning of World War II, the German troops have invaded the majority of Eastern Europe and are a step away from Paris. A week later, they have entered the French capital. In the middle of this aggressive context, and knowing that Germany is getting stronger, London took the initiative of presenting an irresistible offer for Spain and Franco. A way of convincing him not to participate in the war next to his ally Hitler. 

A very confident Franco

During the Civil War in Spain (1936-1939), the role of the German aviation had been decisive in the victory of Franco's troops. The day when Paris fell into the hands of Germany by his friend Hitler (June 14, 1940), Spanish soldiers celebrated this victory in their own way by entering Tangier, which was a violation of the city's international status.

The subsequent events will not have been in favor of the Spaniards and their German friends who will capitulate on the 8th of May, 1945. The dictator Francisco Franco after years of political wandering will succeed in getting closer to the Americans thanks to a merciless struggle against communists. A commitment that had enabled him to be part of the world order of that era. As for Gibraltar, it is still under British sovereignty same as Sebta and Melilia are still under Spanish occupation.

Holding talks in 2011

For Spain and Great Britain Giblartar was contention. Nevertheless, negotiations have taken place between the two countries in order to find a solution that would please both of them; Most recently in 2001. The proximity of ideas between Tony Blair and José Maria Aznar contributed greatly to the succession of meetings between the two representatives of the two governments. The first round of negotiations began on November 20th 2001 in Barcelona. The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Josep Piqué, liked to repeat that the future of Gibraltar «is a matter of two sovereign states».

On July the 12th his British counterpart, Jack Straw, announced that London and Madrid agreed to a shared sovereignty over Giblartar. However, the military base, which occupies 40% of the surface of Gibraltar, will remain British. Despite this sizeable concession, the government of José Maria Aznar shouted «victory». For his part, Peter Kerouna, the Prime Minister of the Gibraltar government, described the deal as «treason» by London. On 26th of July 2002 he announced that a referendum would be held on 9th of November of the same year concerning the Hispano-British Agreement. The result of this popular consultation was without appeal with 99.26% of the voters saying no.

This is the second time that the people of Gibraltar have chosen to remain under British rule; the first time was in 1967.

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