Officials at the Central Intelligence Agency in 1983 believed Gibraltar would ultimately become a semi-autonomous region of Spain, even while they acknowledged Britain’s commitment to uphold the wishes of Gibraltarians who were firmly opposed to such a prospect, according to declassified secret documents.
Britain’s promise never to change Gibraltar’s sovereignty against the wishes of the Gibraltarians was described as “the major obstacle” to any talks between the UK and Spain on the Rock’s future, the CIA noted in a detailed report on Gibraltar dated February 15, 1983.
The US spy agency reported at the time that while the UK “appeared ready” to negotiate with Spain over Gibraltar, its commitment to the Gibraltarians meant there was little prospect of change. The Gibraltarians, it added, were fervently patriotic and wanted to remain British.
Even so, the document set out what CIA officials thought might happen in the future.
“In our judgement, one possible interim solution could include an arrangement for dual Spanish-British administration and dual citizenship for Gibraltar’s residents,” the CIA paper said.
“Over the longer term, the most likely outcome is for Gibraltar to become a semi-autonomous region of Spain, but the process could take generations.”
The secret CIA document analysed Gibraltar’s political situation just months after the partial opening of the border, and against the backdrop of talks about Spain’s membership of both NATO and the European Community.
The paper is one of millions of declassified CIA historical documents made available online last week.
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