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Thursday, 25 July, 2002, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
Was Spain right to retake the disputed island of Perejil?
The territorial dispute over the Mediterranean island of Perejil looks closer to being resolved after Morocco agreed not to send troops back to the island if Spain withdrew its forces.

Morocco's foreign minister Mohamed Benaissa made the offer of reconciliation after Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar said he was willing to resolve the row through diplomatic channels.

The tiny islet off the Moroccan coast, which is no larger than a football pitch, came under the international spotlight after Spanish forces recaptured the island from Moroccan soldiers on Wednesday.

Perejil, known to Moroccans as Leila, has been at the centre of a dispute between the two countries since 11 July when Morocco sent a dozen soldiers to occupy the uninhabited island, claiming the move was part of an effort to crack down on terrorism and illegal immigration.

What is your reaction to the current situation in Perejil? Was Spain right to retake the island? What do you think should happen to the disputed land? What impact will this situation have on the neighbouring Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla?

This Talking Point is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your comments:

By what right does Morocco call Ceuta and Melilla its own? Simple attachment to the African continent does not make it Morocco's. Does Morocco claim Algeria as its own as well? People seem to forget that geographically, Spain is practically attached to the African continent. So close in fact that one can see the other country from its coast. This is not a case of a nation claiming land a half a world away. This is simply a case of Spain existing in two continents much like Turkey does.
Pedro Coley, USA

Well this business of that tiny uninhabited outcrop is of course slightly ridiculous in itself but it has the merit of highlighting the question of Ceuta and Melilla, those two Spanish enclaves on Moroccan territory. The Spanish say Ceuta and Melilla are not "up for negotiation", so why should those same Spaniard claim Gibraltar? Isn't it time for the British Government to stand up and tell the Spanish that, like Ceuta and Melilla, Gibraltar is not up for negotiation. In fact I think the whole affair is a perfect opportunity to "boomerang" back their logic to the Spanish instead of kowtowing to them. Gibraltar is a British town, full stop.
Alain Hernu, France

Spain was absolutely right in taking remedial action

Elias Georgantas, Greece
No matter how small, remote or inhabited a given territory is, sovereignty over it remains a pillar of international legal order. Thus Spain was absolutely right in taking remedial action, in exactly the same manner that the UK was right in retaking the Falklands from Argentina, and Greece the Imia islands from Turkey.
Elias Georgantas, Greece

As a European living in America, I am disappointed in the lack of European effort in this situation. The EU's oversized political monstrosity is debating back and forth about how to be recognized on the international scene, and then the US' Powell comes in and forwards a proposal instead. I hope the EU will eventually be a real Union once, and not just an excuse for even more politicians.

Yes, Spain was right to retake the island of Perejil (or Leila). But this has nothing to do with history, but with present politics. Relations between Morocco and Spain were at a low point because Spain does not back Moroccan claims over the Western Sahara, and rejects Moroccan claim over prospective oil fields 9 km off Fuerteventura (Canary Islands) and 100 km far from Tarfaya (Morocco). From my point of view, Morocco, which is backed by France and the U.S.A. in that two issues, just tried to reaffirm its position invading Perejil (or Leila). The Spanish Government was then forced to change its extremely mild politics towards Morocco and show its Government the Spanish people's majority feelings against the dictatorial regime that rules Morocco: we reject any of their out of law actions against the people of the Western Sahara, or any threats against Spain.
Maximiliano Rodríguez, Spain

I am a Moroccan. I am very happy about the re-occupation of Parsley Island by Spanish forces. I'd be happier if Spain could have occupied Tetouan, Nador and Alhucimas, because our government is corrupt and the king wasted millions for his wedding while 95% of the population live in misery and risk their life to try to cross Europe. When we have democracy, human rights, freedom of speech , social security, like Spain has, then we'll probably ask for Parsley rock. Well Done Espana
Karim, London, UK

Spain has simply made itself look like a hypocritical bully.

Philip Kilner, UK
I am amazed that either side is foolish enough to refer to history. Surely, we have learned that the living initiate conflict, not the dead. This being the case, inhabited territories should have their sovereignty decided by self-determination. Uninhabited rocks inside a nations territorial waters should generally belong to that country, if for no better reason than that this might remove another irritant from international relations. In this case, by becoming hysterical about such a trivial issue, Spain has simply made itself look like a hypocritical bully. The last time I heard someone using events in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries to justify what would otherwise seem irrational policies was over Northern Ireland.
Philip Kilner, UK

Frankly, I am sick of all these ridiculous comments about how this land was Spanish before Morocco existed. Maybe Morocco didn't exist in it's actual form, but believe me it's inhabitants did! And if we want to give history lessons then we can also claim that Andalusia is Moroccan and has been for centuries. Just look at the architectural wonders that we have left behind! I think Spain should stop its double standards.
Mohamed Berrechid, Sweden/Morocco

I reject the simplistic arguments about geography, history and native ethnicities. Land ownership has always been decided by power. When one nation has imposed its will on a distant land then that land is owned by that nation. Colonialism didn't end in one day with a sudden change in the world. Imperialist powers simply lost the strength or economic incentive to maintain their possessions. If Spain is strong enough to keep Perejil then it belongs to them. There is no inherent nationality in a piece of land. Might decides where the borders are.
Raymond Ramirez, USA

Arguments could go on for years

Name Here
Talk as much as you want but these matters are solved by will and strength. You can find justifications for almost anything and arguments could go on for years. I prefer to argue from the position that Spain is now that from the one Spain was in Tuesday. Morrocco has in the past invaded the Western Sahara. It is not a democracy and human rights are lacking. The Spanish Government had no other way to go.
Jorge, Spain

Spain is right to resist the aggression, but now needs to open negotiations to give the island to Morocco to which it geographically belongs - apparently within slingshot range! Nobody lives there, so the complexities of Ceuta and Melilla (and Gibraltar) do not apply. Keep it friendly by being reasonable!
Martin, Thailand

The long and short of the matter is: Morocco violated Spain's sovereignty, no matter how close to Africa this island is. A border is a border, and must be respected as such. Spain acted correctly as a matter of principle, and its bloodless eviction of the Moroccan soldiers should be considered, at the very least, an act of generosity.
Evan, USA

Proximity matters? What about Ulster? Democracy matters! If Moroccans want to fight, let them fight against their anachronistic dictatorship first, and later discuss sovereignty in a civilized manner.
Xavier, Belgium

The current situation is a perfect example of Spain's dark history of colonialism

Ibrahim Abdellah, Palestine
While everybody says that Spain had control of all disputed areas before Morocco existed as a country, people are forgetting that although Morocco only came into existence recently, it has always been part of the Arab Empire which included all those areas as well as Spain itself. Spain has no right over any land on the African continent. The current situation is a perfect example of Spain's dark history of colonialism, which it still lives in.
Ibrahim Abdellah, Palestine

People look to history in order to justify their claim to a piece of land but this makes no sense at all. In fact it confuses the issue. With such reasoning, one could argue that half of France should be English, Italy should belong to the Pope, most of Arabia should belong to Turkey, and come to think of it, most of the Mediterranean coastline should be Italian. What matters nowadays is the people who live there and what they want. The fact that the island is empty suggest that Morocco has no claim to it and should have respected the status quo rather than creating one more conflict between the Islamic world and the Western world.
Marc Lucas, UK/France

This seems to be a clash of national egos

Dan, USA
Maybe the Spaniards have a legitimate claim to the island. However, we must put this in proper perspective. Is this little rock really worth armed conflict between Spain and Morocco? This seems to be a clash of national egos, and both sides should be ashamed of themselves.
Dan, USA

I believe than even though the action was heavy handed the situation justified the reaction, and I don't mean that the island itself justified the effort. It is just that when a dictatorship (Morocco, don't forget, is not a democracy) lands soldiers without any negotiation or warning and states that they are there to stay and don't listen to reason. something must be done. What would any democracy do? Imagine for example that a dictatorship tomorrow takes a very little and worthless rock off the Falkland islands and establishes a military presence there, what would the UK do?
Victor Cases, Spain

In situations like these, if you give a little, they take a lot.

Christian, England
Spain doesn't care about Perejil. But that's not the point. In situations like these, if you give a little, they take a lot. Morocco has no need for the island either, but its a matter of national pride. I don't believe their IS a right or wrong in a situation like this. Its down to basics, the strongest will win. Be that through force, public influence or law.
Christian, England

Perejil is a colony, just as are Ceuta and Melilla and Gibraltar. The Moroccans surely have more of a claim to Perejil than Spain has claim to Gibraltar as Perejil is uninhabited and therefore there is no population to be consulted. Gibraltar on the other hand should stay British as its population wish to remain British.
James Wild, UK

Of course Spain was right. Those goats were Spanish goats and deserved to be freed from the oppressive bondage of Moroccan rule

Even for private property in the UK there are laws that state that if a piece of land is in common, undisputed usage by someone for a length of time (I think its seven years) then that land is legally theirs. This has always made a lot of sense to me. If the Moroccan goat farmers are the only people who have been using the land for half a century then as far as I'm concerned its theirs. No one else has wanted it during this time. The occupied colonies are, of course, more complex and should be the choice of the people there.
Phil Shimmin, U.K.

Aggression generates aggression.

Neil Coleldge, France
Regardless of the value or size of the disputed Spanish possessions the important point here is that Morocco decided to effectively invade to stake its claim. What sort of response did they expect? A leafleting campaign and an invitation for aperitifs to discuss the matter?? If you invade another country's land (whether you think its yours or not) then don't start wailing when they defend it. Aggression generates aggression.
Neil Coleldge, France

This is a job that ideally an international criminal court should be able to step in and deal with: everyone is saying "mine, no mine" - they need someone to come in, take it away from both parties and get them to prove ownership and get a fair resolution out of both in a court of law. It's not just terrible, it's stupid to create tense relations and risk violent situations for citizens of either country because of this seemingly irrelevant but actually deep seated and complex land dispute.
Alejandro Fernandez, Spain

Morocco was defending its legitimate rights on the island when it put some soldiers there to control drug trafficking and immigration. Because it is 200 metres from the Moroccan territory, geographically we can't admit that this island can be Spanish. Moreover, how can we interpret the occupation of two towns inside the Moroccan territory: Ceuta and Mililia? It's colonialism in the 21st century by a developed country claiming human rights, integrity of territories and international rights. There are contradictions between what Spain claims and what we are observing on the fields. Consequently, the Perejil islet is Moroccan at 100%.
Azzeddine, Morocco

It was a deliberate provocation by Morocco and Europe should be behind Spain.

Mike, Denmark
Spain is certainly right to push out Moroccan aggressors however small the island is. It was a deliberate provocation by Morocco and Europe should be behind Spain. All historical arguments aside the people of Ceuta, Melilla and Gibraltar should always have the last say regarding their own future.
Mike, Denmark

Spain should return back all the territories irrespective of whether the territories were under Spanish rule for the past 500 years. However the rights of the inhabitants of those territories should be respected by Morocco. To start with both countries should agree to share sovereignty over these territories until the transfer is completed.
C. Degeffa, The Netherlands

This is ridiculous. No matter the history, how can Spain claim a land that is barely 200m away from Morocco. Morocco and Africa should fight to retain the island.
John Ole Kisimir, Kenya

I'm from Melilla. And I grew up trying to convince everybody that Melilla is Spanish.

Lupe, Spain
I'm from Melilla. And I grew up trying to convince everybody that Melilla is Spanish. I'm not going to do it again. I just want to say that there are more than 60.000 people living there. Do they want to be Moroccans? Ask Muslims, Jewish and Catholics, who live there, what they want to do with their lives. I feel Spanish and honestly, even If I would feel Moroccan, I would prefer to live in a democratic country with a future.
Lupe, Madrid, Spain

I can agree with most, if not all of the comments by most of the Spanish contributions here stating that Perejil, Ceuta and Melilla have been Spanish a long time, and that the inhabitants clearly want to stay part of Spain. However, I cannot agree with the comments about Gibraltar. Whatever the circumstances, international law makes it British. Forgetting that, much more importantly, almost all the people who want to live there want to stay British. I therefore find Spain's actions in making life difficult and trying to marginalise the sovereign territory of another EU country inexcusable.

Personally, I am more than a little dumbfounded by this whole affair. The island is little more than a rock that is half a mile long, completely uninhabited, home to mostly seagulls, and has the odd bit of wild parsley growing there. I would love someone to explain to me why it's of any strategic importance to either Spain or Morocco. Still, this issue isn't about strategic military importance. It's about Morocco wanting to stick two fingers up at Spain. In my not so humble opinion, the whole thing is utterly pathetic.
William van Zwanenberg, Finland

Spain admits the island's status is unclear

Irakli West, Germany
Occupying disputed, worthless territory without any preceding diplomatic efforts cannot be justified by any means. Spain admits the island's status is unclear, while both Morocco and Spain have agreed not to be present there. I'd be interested in knowing which hidden agenda the Moroccans are following. The world's attention has certainly been directed towards the region but I doubt it is of help to anyone.
Irakli West, Germany

I think that Spain does not know that the colonial time is over. Spain said that Ceuta, Melilla and the islands are parts of Spain because they have belonged to Spain since the 16th century. Could we say, using the same logic, that Andalusia should belong to Morocco since Moroccans were there for more than 6 centuries. Time has come that Spain should give up control over Ceuta, Melilla and the various islands that are parts of Morocco as Casablanca is.
Youssef Charfi, Morocco/Germany

If we consider geographical proximity as a real issue here, the I am expecting an occupation of Greenland from Canada's point of view in the near future? Should Italy claim Malta? How about the Canary Islands and the Falklands? Maybe we should settle Cyprus too? How many country boundaries have been established in Africa that have not taken any population or ethnicity into any account? There are diplomatic ways nowadays and Morocco can use those like anybody else, instead of putting a flag on a rock that is owned by someone else according to international law. As far as I know Spain has not occupied Gibraltar militarily, as yet. That makes all the difference.
Christina, the Netherlands

This whole thing to me sounds like hangovers of colonialism

Edward, Botswana
Everyone keeps on saying Morocco didn't exist. Does this mean that the area now being occupied by Morocco was uninhabited during those times? This whole thing to me sounds like hangovers of colonialism, and of course poor Morocco will be unable to do anything, what with the fellow colonialists watching over their big brother.
Edward, Botswana

I don't think a valid comparison between Gibraltar and Perejil can be made. The Spanish have been trying to obtain possession of Gibraltar only by diplomatic means, whereas Morocco just 'invades' the island, no matter how insignificant it may be. So which country is reverting back to the old colonial conquering ways here? It would be a different matter if the Moroccans made their claim in courts.
Uli, Belgium

Spain should give this tiny Island back to Morocco, but certainly not immediately after a deliberate hostile invasion by the Kingdom of Morocco. The Spanish Government has acted immaculately, pursuing a diplomatic solution first and then recuperating the rock in a blood-free military action.
Borja, Madrid Spain

Of course the Spanish have a right to defend their land, but the comments here by the Spanish definitely smack of double standards. The responses stating that Ceuta and Melilla belong to Spain because the people living there regard themselves as Spanish is exactly the point the Gibraltarians are using as their claim to remain British, but Spain refuses to accept. So where is the difference?
Alan, Germany(English)

In this modern age, location isn't important.

Ron Tipton, USA
All people should have the right to determine where they want to live and what (if any) country they want to be part of. The people who live in Ceuta, Melilla, Gibraltar and all other places should be the ones to decide. No country has the right to claim land where the people that live there want to be part of another country. In this modern age, location isn't important.
Ron Tipton, USA

Everybody stating that Ceuta, Melilla and the small islands on the African coast belong to Morocco should read the encyclopaedia first and that way they would realize that the Moroccan Kingdom is a very recent entity, and that these territories belonged to the Kingdom of Spain near one century before the actual ruling Alawi dynasty started controlling certain areas of the actual Morocco.
Asier, Spain

By all means was Spain justified in its occupation of Perijil. One can only surmise as to how the United States would react if Mexico chose to send troops and raise its flag over one of the many uninhabited islets located off the coast of California or Texas. There is also the symbolism to consider: why did the Moroccans go so far as to place their flag on the islet? From a historical perspective, the placing of flags by occupying forces represented nothing less than outright conquest of a territory. Finally, if indeed Perejil was of any use as a counter to terrorist activities in the area, I would feel much more secure about having the Spaniards there vis a vis the Moroccans.
Christopher Poulios, United States

The Moroccans have deliberately provoked the Spanish and are themselves fully responsible for the Spanish counter-strike. Spain stood firm and Europe will stand firm if Morocco would decide to continue in their anti-Spain campaigns!
Alwyn, Netherlands

How many Spaniards have lived on Perejil recently? The only people that use it are the Moroccan goat farmers

Richard, UK
A country belongs to the people that live there and have done so for generations; quoting long past history, invasions and disputed treaties just add to the troubles. After all, if we look at the facts, the USA is an occupied land, whose once proud native inhabitants were killed and marginalised by invading Europeans. It gained independence over two centuries ago, but it was never Britain's to give away, nor the Americans to take. The USA belongs to the Americans. Gibraltar belongs to the Gibraltarians, they should decide whose sovereignty they want to live under. And Perejil? How many Spaniards have lived on Perejil recently. The only people that use it are the Moroccan goat farmers, so what's the problem with handing it back to Morocco, thus avoiding the calls of hypocrisy.
Richard, United Kingdom

So Morocco says they occupied Perejil to crack down on terrorist suspects and illegal immigrants that try to cross the Straits? Apart from the blunder of using military means first, these aims would be perfectly OK with Spain. As the islet has nothing of value to offer (except prestige), why don't Spain AND Morocco utilize Perejil jointly, eg by setting up a monitoring post?
Eike, Germany

Morocco has become a pain in the neck for Spain. It's a bad thing to have such a neighbour; a country with a medieval-like government, widespread corruption and an unloyal supposed friend. The Perejil Island occupation (which I agree isn't worth a single bullet) has been their last trial to test Spain. I think it's good to show them a harder position and then re-start dialogue.
Francisco Espejo, Spain

To all the readers that think Spain is playing a double face game. Spain is not playing anything; we just protect our interest and territory as every country should do. I'm Spanish and I consider Ceuta as Spanish as Madrid and I will defend it the same way. .
Luis, USA/Spain

Any proposal can be negotiated, but Morocco preferred to deploy soldiers. Ceuta and Melilla were Spanish before Morocco existed as a country, so we have to respect that sovereignity, as we do with Gibraltar.
Kike Gomez, Spain

The only claim Morocco has is based upon geographical proximity.

Martin Marston-Paterson, Wales
The enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla have been part of the Spanish Kingdom for 500 years. Their inhabitants are mainly ethnically Spanish and have voted to remin Spanish subjects in a referendum. What more can possibly be said? The only claim Morocco has is based upon geographical proximity. Of course these enclaves must remain Spanish.
Martin Marston-Paterson, Wales

Spain conquered Ceuta and Melilla in the 1490s just as the UK conquered Gilbraltar about 1710. If the UK gives Gilbraltar to Spain, then Spain should be prepared to give Ceuta and Melilla back to Morocco. It goes both ways. Spain ceded control over Gilbraltar in perpetuity, which if my dictionary is correct means 'forever'. Spain wants it's cake and eat too. Well, too bad.
Kenneth S. Paulsen, USA

This crisis is only a small part of an even larger one in diplomacy. It's time for all of Europe to renounce their deplorable past history of imperialism and make amends. Spain should relinquish its hold on these territorial possessions off the Morroccan coast in exchange for receiving Gilbraltar back from the U.K.
Donald, U.S.A.

Like the British with the Falklands, Spain has a right to protect its territory. The fact that Morocco wants the islands should not matter.
Charles, Canada

This dispute should have been resolved through diplomatic means

Daniel Vazquez, Galicia, Spain
I am Spaniard but I disagree completely with the Spanish occupation of Perejil. This dispute should have been resolved through diplomatic means. Regarding Ceuta, Melilla and Gibraltar, their own inhabitants must have the last word about their future.
Daniel Vazquez, Galicia, Spain

Spain has a pretty solid case that island is theirs. That island has been part of Spain longer than the USA has been in existence. As for the proximity argument, Vancouver is within 30 miles of the US border. Does that mean that Canada should give us Vancouver? Furthermore, any ruling by an international court would be disputed by the loser so don't waste the paper on that solution.
Bill, USA

It's ironic that Spain cannot see that the argument Morocco has with Perejil and Ceuta is the same that they have with Gibraltar. The difference being that Parsley can't vote whereas 27,000 Gibraltarians can.
Sean Rooney, Ireland

Spain should get off African soil

Simon G, Belgium
Spain should get off African soil. There is no African claiming any part of European land!
Simon G, Belgium

Do not forget that Morocco is a dictatorship. The Moroccan government intends to keep Moroccan minds distracted from everyday difficulties and aggressions. Spain has nothing to lose with this dispute, whereas Morocco does. It would be much more attractive for Moroccans to fight for democracy and not for this islet.
Miguel, Spain

The islet belongs to Spain for historical reasons but has been in a state of "non-occupation" for quite a long time. Now the Moroccan army goes and plants their flag. What was Spain expected to do? If Morocco claims sovereignty over Perejil, there are better ways to go about it rather than invading the tiny island. Spain is legitimate in forcing the situation back to normal, when neither of the countries had a presence on the rock.
Joan, Spain

I hope Spain hammers a nail in the coffin of the colonial era and returns the Moroccan land in a festive ceremony.
Vikas, India

This dispute should be settled in an international court

Danny, Gibraltar
This dispute should be settled in an international court in the same way the disputes over British Gibraltar and the Basque country should. Spain seems to think that by placing Spaniards in influential positions, like the EU presidency, and the presidency of NATO that they have an advantage when it comes to getting support in the big boys club.
Danny, Gibraltar

Morocco is trying to solve its huge internal problems with these kinds of actions. Besides, the Moroccan king hasn't forgiven the Spaniards for trying to help the people of the occupied territories of the Sahara.
Francisco Gómez, Madrid, Spain

I don't think proximity is a legitimate reason. Gibraltar should remain British and Ceuta should stay Spanish. It is the people of these regions who have the right to decide alone.
Pere, Valencia, Spain

People who say that Melilla and Ceuta were Spanish before Morocco existed make me laugh. Spain was created in the 15th Century by the union of Castilla, Leon and Aragon. Morocco has existed for centuries, and ruled a huge part of Spain for eight centuries, so Morocco existed before Spain. Spain can't claim Gibraltar and keep Ceuta and Malilla, it is just a logical matter, but Spaniards still live in colonial times, thinking the whole world belongs to them.
Habib, France

The Spanish government has now lost all credibility in its discussions over the future of Gibraltar

Koen Byl, Belgium/Spain
With this action, the Spanish government has now lost all credibility in its discussions over the future of Gibraltar. How can they ask the UK to give up control over Gibraltar, while they themselves do not want to give up control over areas that clearly (for geographical reasons) do not belong to Spain.
Koen Byl, Belgium/Spain

I would like to say that Ceuta and Melilla were never taken by force. Gibraltar is a completely different entity and situation. It is wrong to compare the two.
Javi, Almería, Spain

They can keep Perejil and we'll keep Gibraltar. That seems fair to me!
John, Scotland, UK

Spain has made a huge mistake

Aziz, Morocco
I think Spain has made a huge mistake. We are ready to protect our country at all costs.
Aziz, Morocco

How could an island 200 metres off the coast belong to another country. When did Morocco cease to have a history? There was a Morocco long before there was a Europe.
Lee Jackson, USA

I strongly recommend Lee Jackson studies a little more history, because his comments are laughable, especially for someone from a country with just 250 years of history. That islet has belonged to Spain since 1668, so they have the right to reclaim it. This issue cannot be compared to the situation in Gibraltar: the Brits have shown far more respect to the Spanish than the Moroccans.
Jusuf, Spain

Spain is completely right to retake the island because it still belongs to Spain. It has belonged to us since 1668 when Portugal gave Spain Ceuta and the island of Perejil.
Javu, Spain

This all seems a little bit hypocritical of the Spanish at a time when they are desperate to reclaim Gibraltar. I don't see how they can claim sovereignty of Gibraltar (which they gave away by treaty) only to claim islands off the Moroccan coast - how bizarre!
Nick, UK

We voted to be Spanish in a referendum

Raul Alvarez, Ceuta, Spain
I'm a resident of Ceuta. I think that if you compare these islands with Gibraltar, which was taken by force, we are very different as we voted to be Spanish in a referendum. Melilla was abandoned in 1497 and taken by Pedro de Estopiñan, long before Morocco even existed.
Raul Alvarez, Ceuta, Spain

To Raul Alvarez: The residents of Gibraltar would love to vote in a referendum on their future. If only the Labour government would let them. I hope the Moroccans return when the Spanish leave again!
Chris, UK

As we all know, Spain believes passionately that decolonisation must progress and that territories should be handed back to their "rightful" owners. For example, look at Spain's attitude to Gibraltar. Surely the Spanish would not maintain an inconsistent, two-faced policy by seeking to retain Ceuta, Melilla and various islands when they should rightly be returned to Morocco.
Graham, London, England

They should be returned to Morocco. After all, they are in Morocco, not Spain.
Jamie Tayari, England

If the Spanish government didn't take this islet, tomorrow we would lose Ceuta, Melilla and the Canary Islands

Cherry, Spain
I think that Spain has done well. If the Spanish government didn't take this islet, tomorrow we would lose Ceuta, Melilla and the Canary Islands, territories that are also reclaimed by Morocco. All these territories have belonged to Spain since the 16th century. Morocco has existed as a country only since the 50s.
Cherry, Spain

I have family links in Melilla and Ceuta. My grandfather built the lighthouse in Melilla and most of my family have been living there for quite a few years, but we are in the 21st century now, and personally I think those territories are part of Morocco more than Spain, in terms of proximity. You just have to see the people in the streets. I like those towns and they are part of my history, but the truth is that they are far away from mainland Spain.
Francisco Frutos, London, UK

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