The 200 year controversy over who owns the Rock of Gibralter appears to be ending.
BRITAIN and Spain yesterday edged closer to a deal that could end almost 200 years of wrangling over the control of Gibraltar.Its good to see both sides work out their differences. Spain's restrictions on the rock were counterproductive to say the least.(I'm reminded of the handover of Hong Kong to the Chinese in 1997. There the British had less choice since most of the colony's fresh water came from the New Territories) All they did was create a headache rather than get back this small piece of real estate.
In an agreement the Foreign Office described as "historic," many of the day-to-day restrictions Spain had imposed on the 28,000 inhabitants of the rock will be lifted.
While the central issue of sovereignty remains untouched under the agreement, diplomats pointed out that talks held in the Spanish city of Cordoba are the first time the Spanish government has agreed to talk directly to Gibraltar's political leadership.
Perhaps the most significant deals struck yesterday affect travel to and from Gibraltar.
In 1969, the then Spanish dictator General Franco sealed the border with Gibraltar, meaning anyone travelling by land faced extensive security checks. Airspace was also restricted: no direct flights from Spain were permitted, and planes flying into Gibraltar from elsewhere were forced into potentially hazardous manoeuvres to avoid Spanish airspace.
Under yesterday's agreements, streamlined border controls will cut the permanent traffic jams on and off the rock, and civil aviation will face far fewer restrictions.
Another deal will make it easier for Spanish citizens to work on Gibraltar and then claim pension rights.
• Gibraltar was ceded to Britain by Spain in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht, which ended the War of the Spanish Succession, in which Britain fought to prevent the union of France and Spain under a Catholic crown. Spain has sought its return ever since.The monkeys on and in the rock are legendary. They are given names, including ones named after British royalty. During WWII, Winston Churchill was supposedly concerned about these critters. Legend says if the monkeys died out, Britain would lose the colony.
• Some 28,000 people live on Gibraltar, and about 4,000 Spaniards cross the border each day to work there.
• In 1967, the people of Gibraltar voted in a referendum for their home to remain a British dependent territory. A 2002 referendum overwhelmingly rejected any move to shared sovereignty with Spain.
• A nature reserve which covers most of Gibraltar is home to the only group of wild monkeys in Europe, called Barbary macaques.
No such problem today. The monkeys are thriving and often bring traffic to a standstill with some unplanned antics.
The saying solid as a rock is a bit of misnomer. Gibralter has a massive system of tunnels built inside of it.
One of my favorite James Bond movie scenes was shot there for the film, The Living Daylights. An imposter has sneaked his way into a British wargame and after killing a Double 00 agent, James Bond chases after the assasain. A British soldier thinking the wargame is still on shoots Bond with fake ammo, but 007 pushes aside before jumping onto the top of land rover being driven by the bad guy. The soldier then yells out.
"Hold on, you're dead."
My favorite quote from the Bond films. In addition to TLD, Raymond Benson's Double Shot and John Gardner's Win Lose or Die both of which are James Bond novels, were at least partly set in Gibralter.
Hat tip- Captain's Quarters
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