Spain's king on day two of enclave visit

6th November 2007, Comments 0 comments

6 November 2007, MELILLA - Spain's King Juan Carlos on Tuesday began the second day of his visit to Spanish enclaves on the north African coast in a trip that has drawn accusations of colonialism from Morocco.

6 November 2007

MELILLA - Spain's King Juan Carlos on Tuesday began the second day of his visit to Spanish enclaves on the north African coast in a trip that has drawn accusations of colonialism from Morocco.

Juan Carlos arrived in Melilla accompanied by Queen Sofia to cries of "Long Live Spain", "Melilla Is Spanish" and "Long Live The King" from a throng on the enclave's main square.

The king later gave a speech at city hall before local officials.

"As king for all Spaniards, it is my duty to visit Melilla with the queen," he said, thanking residents for his warm welcome without referring to the diplomatic row with Morocco that the trip has sparked.

His visit to Melilla and to the enclave of Ceuta on Monday -- the first of his 32-year reign -- has provoked ire from the Moroccan government, which recalled its ambassador to Madrid last week. Morocco lays claim to the territories.

"Spain must understand that its colonial era is over and for good," Moroccan Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi said Monday.

The two enclaves held by Spain for around 500 years are "an integral part of our national territory," he added.

Madrid sought to soothe tensions Tuesday.

Disagreement over the enclaves must not define "the whole relationship" between the two countries, Spanish Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Bernardino Leon told Spanish radio.

"A disagreement on one concrete point must not encompass the whole relationship," he said.

The Moroccan parliament on Monday night called for "serious and responsible discussions" with Spain on the status of the "occupied" enclaves.

The Spanish press on Tuesday pondered the likely repercussions of the visit.
"Rest assured, once the initial angry gestures of our neighbour -- the demonstrations and the statements of disapproval -- have passed, what will remain is the magnitude of the damage caused to our bilateral relations," wrote the liberal daily El Mundo in an editorial.

"Only time will tell whether the Moroccan royal family will decide to continue the withdrawal of its ambassador or continue its collaboration over issues like illegal immigration and Islamic terrorism," it concluded.

[Copyright AFP 2007]

Subject: Spanish news

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