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Last Updated: Friday, 6 August, 2004, 21:22 GMT 22:22 UK
Should Gibraltar celebrate British rule?
Celebrations are being held in Gibraltar to mark the three-hundredth year of British rule - despite protests by Spain, which claims the territory.

The British defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, is in Gibraltar to attend the celebrations. But the visit has been criticised by Spanish foreign minister, Miguel Moratinos, as an "offensive action".

Shadow Foreign Secretary Michael Ancram said he was "disappointed" by the Spanish government's reaction and urged them to "grow up". He said it would only increase the resolve of Gibraltarians to remain British.

Spain has long demanded the return of the Rock since Britain seized it in 1704, but the majority of Gibraltarians want to remain British.

Should Gibraltar be celebrating 300 years of British rule? Should Gibraltar be given back to Spain? Do you think that Geoff Hoon's visit was "offensive"? Or should the Spanish government "grow up"? Send us your comments

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


Your comments: :

I lived a large and very happy part of my life on Gibraltar, as part of, and amongst its people. They are wonderful people. What tosh to talk of Imperialism. The Rock was ceded to the British by formal agreement. How many of those who would return it to Spain know of the reciprocal case of Ceuta? Very few I fear. The rock is British, its people want it that way, nothing to do with imperialism, quite the reverse, its the people's choice.
Danny, uk

The people of Gibraltar are a mix of races including Maltese, Spanish, Jews, Muslims, Portuguese, Italians with a small minority amount of British from the UK, however this mix of people democratically by 99% choose not to be Spanish, can't get much fairer than that.
Shane should visit the place and would learn its not full of Brits and maybe he doesn't know that the Moors who lived in this area and Southern Spain were forced out by the Spanish, so if its history you go by the Moors owned this area the longest. However we don't live in the past and thankfully democracy prevails and smaller countries don't get taken over by the larger bullies. I don't think the Austrians were too happy and being made part of Germany in the last war and just look at all the little countries springing out of Russia now they have democracy
Graham, UK and Gibraltar

Some of you say that "This treaty still stands". In that treaty, Gibraltar is given forever to the British but it is also said that there will be no communication by land between the rock and Spain. Then we should close the border, shouldn't we?
Pedro, Madrid, Spain

The people of Gibraltar have spoken
Derek Vincent, Goodyear, Arizona
The people of Gibraltar have spoken. They desire to remain British. So be it. The same should be granted to Taiwanese. They desire to be completely free of China. It should be so.
Derek Vincent, Goodyear, Arizona

To Shane, Switzerland: Most of the people living in Gibraltar are of Spanish ancestry and most prefer to remain part of the UK. The locals base their opinion on which government is most beneficial to them rather than ethnic concerns. This has nothing to do with empire. Empires don't give people a choice, they conquer. These people have the right to choose and choose to remain part of the UK. Anyone who has actually been to Gibraltar can tell you this.
Jim , NJ, USA

I'm glad the people making these comments today were not around during the 40's otherwise we would have given our country to the Germans without question.
Robert Sutton, Halifax, England

I think the Gibraltarians and the British should be shocked and offended by the insensitivity of the Spanish government, rather than the reverse. The Gibraltarians unanimously oppose Spanish rule. To cede Gibraltar to Spain would be tantamount to ethnic cleansing. I am shocked to see that some of those opposing British rule have proposed removing the population in this discussion.
Colin, UK

They should show the world how it is done by returning Gibraltar to its rightful owner.
Emil Peterscu, Romania
So what if the people there do not want Spanish rule? Britain and Britons have always had opinions about other nations returning "occupied" lands, Middle East being the most obvious example. So why shouldn't they show the world how it is done by returning Gibraltar to its rightful owner.
Emil Peterscu, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

I think a lot of people are missing the point here, the vast vast majority of the people of Gibraltar want to remain British, what was it 98.0% ? in the last referendum carried out on the subject, or maybe we should just remove all those people by force. Only the people of Gibraltar can decided their islands fate, we should be supportive of the fact that they want to remain British.
Dave, England

No, Gibraltar should not celebrate its 300 years of British imperialism. This is ridiculous. It's like asking the Native Indians to celebrate their extermination and oppression by the Western Europeans, or like asking Algerians to celebrate the French occupation, and even more like asking the Palestinians to celebrate 50 years of Israeli occupation and humiliation.
Cheb Mami, Paris, FR

This is absolutely ridiculous. Britain (or more accurately England, since this is where the whole Imperialism comes from) has no right to Gibraltar. If I come to your house and kick you out and replace you with my friends, does this mean I've a "right" to the house. Of course not, and this is what has happened with Gibraltar. Of course the people there want to be British, they're all British. Why not claim Mallorca while you're at it. The imperialist way of thinking of even your average Joe British is disgusting.
Shane, Switzerland

Of course the people there want to be British, they're all British
Shane, Switzerland
Spain should realise that a truly mature democracy involved giving the people the right to decide under whose rule they live. As such they should accept an EU monitored referendum and abide by the result. If they don't accept this then do they accept democracy? Also, the Spanish government ceded Gibraltar to the British in a treaty nearly 300 years ago. This treaty still stands and is legal in international law. Do the Spanish accept international law? I think it's time they started living up to their billing as truly liberal democracy which respects the rule of law and the rights of citizens.
Richard, Madrid

Many lands on this planet have been acquired by force over time from a non-indigenous people and are still occupied and controlled today by the descendants of those invaders. That is the nature of globalisation and population movement. Should the US be returned to native Americans? Should Australia be returned to the Aborigines? Should Ceuta be given back to Morocco? The list goes on. All these lands were acquired by force by non-indigenous people. What should be remembered is that Spain formally ceded Gibraltar to Britain after the 1704 war and the current Gibraltarian population (a vast majority of native descendants not "British" invaders) voted overwhelmingly to retain the current position..
Darrell Belcher, Portsmouth, UK

Spain should realise that a truly mature democracy involved giving the people the right to decide under whose rule they live. As such they should accept an EU monitored referendum and abide by the result. If they don't accept this then do they accept democracy? Also, the Spanish government ceded Gibraltar to the British in a treaty nearly 300 years ago. This treaty still stands and is legal in international law. Do the Spanish accept international law? I think it's time they started living up to their billing as truly liberal democracy which respects the rule of law and the rights of citizens.
Richard, Madrid

Absolutely. I am proud and happy that the Gibraltarians wish to celebrate being British. As for the Spanish, almost 99% of the population of Gibraltar want to remain British - conversation over! As for Yan Gindin in NY, the Gibraltarians have been there longer than the USA has existed.
A Sweeting, Leicester, UK

That 'useless piece of Rock' just happens to be home to a 30,000 strong population who feel very British. Why shouldn't we celebrate? If there is something we Gibraltareans know how to do it's party!
Gill, Newcastle upon Tyne (and Gibraltar!)

No, Gibraltar should not be celebrating 300 years of being British. As any one can see, via the pages of an Atlas or a book on Spanish history that Gibraltar is a part of Spain. It was stolen by Britain in as much the same way as the Malvinas/Falklands were taken from Argentina. But, may I ask why the Spanish couldn't have just taken the 'rock' by limited force in the same way that India took Goa from Portugal in 1961 ? That way the territory would have been returned to it's rightful owners once and for all....
Phillip Brand., London, England.

The fact that another country wants a piece of British territory doesn't mean that they have more right to it than us
Paul, Bracknell, UK
The fact that another country wants a piece of British territory doesn't mean that they have more right to it than us. Countries, borders and territories are defined by wars and treaties. The treaty that made Gibraltar British is as valid today as it was when it was agreed. On the matter of Spain's rights to territory, is there not just a little discrepancy between Spain's positions on Gibraltar and on the Basque regions? Regarding the Falklands, they have never belonged to Argentina. It just so happens that they're nearby so they want them.
Paul, Bracknell, UK

If for whatever reason Britain had signed over a small part of Kent to Spain 300 years ago and the people there wanted to remain Spanish, then we'd just have to live with it. What I find perplexing is that while I suspect a huge number of Britons would rather be Spanish, how come Gibraltarians in their entirety want to remain British? Does distance make the heart grow fonder? Is Gibraltar run differently? Is Spain not what we perceive? Just an observation.
Philip, London, UK

Another "solution" would be for Gibraltar to become a city state like San Marino! There is no reason for the Rock to be Spanish or British, Gibraltar is Gibraltar!
Sebastien, UK

Gibraltar is British because the Gibraltarians want it to be British. If they had wanted to be Spanish and part of Spain then there would have been clamouring for independence from Britain. Are they? No! Quite the opposite. Yesterday, thousands of Gibraltareans linked their arms to commemorate their affirmation to Britain.
Tomo, Aberdeen

Perhaps the Saxon invaders should leave England as well!
Ernest Bertrand, Victoria, Canada

Spain always claims that Ceuta and Melilla are not comparable to Gibraltar but I bet that if the Morrocans were asked, they would like to have control over them.
Lee, England

As a citizen of a nation formerly colonised by the British, I think Gibraltar has very right to celebrate British rule. If the UK and Spain still dispute the territory, let a referendum be held that will be a true exercise of democracy to find out what the people want.
Prashanth Parameswaran, Malaysia

The Spanish government should have gotten used to not owning Gibraltar after 15 generations. Seriously, the deciding factor here is that the people of Gibraltar identify themselves as British, so what if Spain owned the rock 300 years ago?
Ben, USA

Here we go again with the dinosaur imperialists of our dead empire. Somehow invasion justifies ownership of a country. How on Earth is Gibraltar British? Under what law? Clearly supporters here think that France is German and Kuwait is Iraqi then?
Duncan, Edinburgh, Scotland

I thought we got rid of that useless bit of rock years ago!
Pugh, Reading, Berkshire
I thought we got rid of that useless bit of rock years ago!
Clive Pugh, Reading, Berkshire

As far as I'm concerned the Spanish can have Gibraltar; it doesn't have much relevance to me. While we're at it the Argentineans can have the Falklands as well.
Ed, Northumberland, UK

Gibraltar is clearly a British-occupied Spanish land. Land that Spain never stopped claiming as its own, land that the British colonialist have stolen from the original inhabitants. The British settlements must be dismantled, and the Brits who lived there must go back to their own country.
Yan Gindin, New York, USA

Gibraltar is ours a bit like the Spanish island of Perejil 200 yards off the shores of Morocco. Remember the fuss when a few Moroccans raised their flag on the island? The Spanish sent in their army to get it back. My point is that if Spain enforce their right of ownership over a small bit of rock off the coast of Africa then they should understand our right to Gibraltar and should just accept it.
Duncan, Salisbury, UK

Spanish rule? British rule? Gee, I thought you were all just one big Euro-family.
Benjamin Smith, Detroit, USA

I thought you were all just one big Euro-family
Benjamin Smith, Detroit, USA
Certainly it is appropriate for the celebrations to take place. I do think the Spanish should "grow up" too. Gibraltar is rightly British and the people living there have overwhelmingly indicated their wish to remain British so in my view, hands off Spain, its ours!
Chris Green, Hagley, Worcs England

Yes, of course we and the Gibraltarians should celebrate. How can a visit by a politician from the 'home' country to an important anniversary be offensive? The Spanish need to grow up and remove that chip from their shoulder.
A. Howlett, Manchester, England

If the Gibraltarians want to celebrate 300 years of British rule, then so they should, and it is only right that the Defence Secretary should be there, as Gibraltar is clearly an important strategic military base. I think the Spanish should just accept that they are never going to rule Gibraltar as the residents clearly don't want that, and stop harping on about it!
Clare, Derbyshire, England

We should get over this obession with being ashamed of being British. If the Spanish don't like it, tough! Of course now that we're shrinking our armed forces yet again I could easily see Spain taking Gibraltar 'back' and we'd be able to nothing about it - bit like the Falklands, but without the 'happy ending'.
Dave, Cambridge England




SEE ALSO:
Hoon in Gibraltar despite protest
04 Aug 04  |  Politics
Spain 'obsessed' with Gibraltar
02 Aug 04  |  Europe


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