Spain’s King Felipe VI described Gibraltar as “an anachronism” during a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, drawing an immediate reaction from the Gibraltar Government which said the Spanish position was “regrettable” and outdated.
The king urged the UK to engage in talks with Spain over Gibraltar’s sovereignty, prompting No 6 Convent Place to remind Madrid that Gibraltar had been ceded forever 300 years ago.
Ahead of the king’s speech, Spain’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs had already included Gibraltar on its list of priorities for the 71st session of UN General Assembly, which started this month.
“As Spain has always done in this forum, I cannot fail to remind you that Gibraltar is the only existing colony on European territory,” King Felipe told the UN.
“In observance of UN mandates, I urge the United Kingdom to end this anachronism with an agreed solution between both our countries that will restore Spain’s territorial integrity and be beneficial for the population of the colony and of Campo de Gibraltar.”
The Spanish position set out by the monarch received a cold response in Gibraltar, where the Gibraltar Government said the rights of Gibraltarians trumped Spain’s territorial aspirations.
“The days when territories could be handed over from one monarch to another regardless of the wishes of the people who live there ended a very long time ago,” a spokesman for No 6 Convent Place said.
“This is not 1704, when Britain conquered Gibraltar, or 1713 when Spain ceded it by Treaty for ever.”
“This is 2016 when what matters most is the right of a people, however small, to determine their own future.”
“It is regrettable that the mentality in official circles in Spain remains stuck in the eighteenth century.”
“Madrid has still not come to terms with having lost Gibraltar over three hundred years ago and it’s time they realised that they are never going to get it back.”
The king’s speech comes ahead of next month’s meeting of the UN’s Special Political and Decolonization Committee, also known as the Fourth Committee, which will again consider Gibraltar as part of its agenda.
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Photo: UN Photo/Cia Pak