Spain tells Charles that Gibraltar dispute must be solved

31st March 2011, Comments 1 comment

Spain's Crown Prince Felipe told Britain's Prince Charles that their two countries need to solve their "bilateral dispute" over Gibraltar, during an official dinner in Madrid.

"Royal Highnesses, your presence in Spain encourages us to deepen our common will to help the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Spain ... expand day by day their understanding and cooperation," Felipe said in a toast at the gala dinner for Charles and his wife Camilla at Spain's Royal Palace on Wednesday.

"With that in mind, I also hope that our authorities make progress in resolving the historical bilateral dispute that is still pending," he said, in a reference to Gibraltar.

The tiny territory off the coast of southern Spain, which Madrid ceded to London in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht, has long fuelled tensions between the two countries.

Madrid argues the 6.5-square-kilometre (2.6-square-mile) promontory that is home to around 30,000 people should be returned to Spanish sovereignty.

But its people overwhelmingly rejected an Anglo-Spanish proposal for co-sovereignty in a referendum in 2002.

There were a series of face-offs involving the security forces of the two countries in the surrounding waters last year.

Spain also protested to London over a visit to the territory by Charles' sister Princess Anne in 2009.

Charles and Camilla, known as the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, arrived Wednesday in Madrid from Portugal -- part of a three-nation tour that will also take them to Morocco and aimed at promoting trade and investment.

Prince Felipe and his wife Letizia are the official hosts of the visit.

Prince Charles met Thursday morning with Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the prime minister's office said.

"The meeting focused on the economic situation of both countries and Europe, with special attention to social policies," it said in a statement.

They also discussed the situation in North Africa and the Middle East, and the nuclear accident as well as "environmental issues."

Prince Charles will also meet with Spanish leaders Thursday, the British embassy said in a statement.

The roundtable will seek "to identify opportunities for green growth and low-carbon development in Spain and the EU, the role for European business in driving the debate forward, and the policies and market mechanisms needed in Spain and the EU to kick-start a low-carbon economy," it said.

The royal couple will attend a lunch hosted by Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia at their residence, the Zarzuela Palace in Madrid, on Thursday. They leave for Rabat on Friday.

It is the first joint visit to Spain by Prince Charles and Camilla, who were married on April 9, 2005.

In August 1987, Charles and his then wife Princess Diana spent a family holiday as guests of the Spanish royals at their summer palace on the island of Majorca, where tensions between the couple were evident.

He attended the funeral for Don Juan, the father of Juan Carlos, in April 1993 and was a guest at the May 2004 wedding of Felipe and Letizia in Madrid.

Charles and Diana's eldest son William will marry Kate Middleton at London's Westminster Abbey on April 29.

© 2011 AFP

1 Comment To This Article

  • Carlos Luna posted:

    on 2nd April 2011, 23:10:42 - Reply

    Spain always asks Gibraltar, but always forgets to give back Olivenza/Olivença to Portugal. In 1801, Olivenza/Olivença was occupied by Spain. In 1815, Spain accepted, by the Treaty of Wien, to give it back to Portugal. Other countries were there (UK, France, Russia, Prussia, Austria), and signed it. Even nowadays, Portugal does not recognize Spanish sovereignity over Olivença. How can Spain forget it?