e-book Europe or Africa?: A Contemporary Study of the Spanish North African Enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla

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Chapter 1 examines the difficulties that the enclaves pose to the relationship between Spain and Morocco, whose long-standing demand for the transfer of the sovereignty of the enclaves is a constant source of friction between the two governments. The extent to which the issue is at the forefront or in the background of their relationship is in large measure determined by whether at any given time political or economic considerations are paramount in Morocco.

Chapter 2 deals with the constitutional relationship between the enclaves and the rest of Spain, and describes their struggle to achieve autonomous status. This struggle and the unique solution which was achieved after years of protracted discussions have defined the relationship between Madrid and the enclaves since the transition to democracy in Spain in the late s. The autonomy statutes have also impinged upon Spanish—Moroccan relations and vice versa and have even highlighted differences between the enclaves themselves.

Chapter 3 surveys the political consequences in both national and local elections of the relationship between the Spanish community in the enclaves and the central Government in Madrid and differences between Ceuta and Melilla are again revealed. The emergence of the Muslim community as a political force in local elections is examined, as is the rise of the GIL party in both towns and the political crises that it caused; both phenomena are clear manifestations of the peculiar circumstance of the enclaves within the Spanish state. Chapter 5 investigates immigration issues arising from the existence of two segments of European territory in North Africa, in the context of a European Union which has removed most of its internal borders under the Schengen Agreement and which is therefore becoming increasingly concerned about the effectiveness Introduction xv of its external ones in order to keep a strict control over the entry of non-EU citizens.

It also includes a wider examination of the attempt to tackle economic disparities between Europe and the countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean in order to reduce the extent of south—north migration. Chapter 6 considers different ways in which Ceuta and Melilla, given their anomalous and unique situation, are — or are not — viewed as parts of Europe, while Chapter 7 considers the parallels and contrasts between the Spanish enclaves in North Africa and the British dependent territory of Gibraltar at the foot of the Spanish peninsula — another territory whose sovereignty is claimed by another nation state, in this case Spain itself.

The Conclusion considers how the various aspects of the enclaves considered in the course of the study may be modified in the future. Moreover both Ceuta and Melilla rely to a great extent on their Moroccan hinterlands, especially for commercial activity. The period immediately following the establishment of the Protectorates saw the conversion of Ceuta and Melilla from presidios to towns, with population increases largely consisting of poor immigrants from southern Spain between and of per cent and per cent respectively Carabaza and de Santos, , pp.

The resistance to Spanish occupation in the Rif began in under Abd el-Krim, and Spain used the enclaves as bases from which to put down the insurgency. Although Franco received support 2 Europe or Africa?

The World's Strangest Borders Part 2: Spain

At the same time many Moroccans fought for the liberation of France. After , when Spain was left diplomatically isolated from the rest of Europe because of the nature of the Franco regime, the Spanish Caudillo cultivated good relations with the Arab nations of North Africa and the Middle East. Spain, however, continued to recognize the former later to become King Mohammed V as the legitimate ruler of Morocco, while also giving some support to Moroccan nationalists.

Such was the strength of opposition to the removal of Sultan Mohammed Ben Yusuf that eventually France, which was preoccupied with opposition to its continuing presence in Algeria, was obliged to negotiate and agree to the independence of Morocco under King Mohammed V in Franco recognized that, without the presence of the French, Spain was in no position to ignore Moroccan requests to come to a similar agreement, and so he invited King Mohammed to Madrid where they drove through the city to an enthusiastic reception. Spain thus ensured the peaceful reunification of the Alouite Kingdom of Morocco, first under King Mohammed until his death in and then under his successor King Hassan II, who died in In this respect Spain clearly emerged from the period of the Moroccan Protectorate smelling sweeter than France, but this advantage was not to last for long.

For while France relinquished all of its possessions in Morocco, Spain retained the two towns of Ceuta The impact of the enclaves on Spanish—Moroccan relations 3 and Melilla, plus Tarfaya and Ifni on the western coast, and the large, sparsely populated area of the Western Sahara. Although this was successful, Spanish losses had been heavy, and under the Cintra Agreement of April the region of Tarfaya was ceded to Morocco.

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Ifni was also relinquished in following resolutions brought by Morocco to the United Nations. Western Sahara Western Sahara, however, was more problematic. It consists of , square kilometres on either side of the Tropic of Cancer roughly between Cabo Cape Juby in the north and Cabo Blanco in the south. Spain had confirmed the presence of phosphate deposits in the region in and this had made it all the more determined to retain possession.

In any case Spanish support especially since the early s for a referendum on self-determination under the auspices of the UN has meant that the issue has continued to dog relations between Madrid and Rabat. Spain has a substantial economic involvement in the Maghreb region in general and in Morocco in particular. While this has The impact of the enclaves on Spanish—Moroccan relations 5 primarily been reflected in investment and credit arrangements with Algeria in order to obtain a cheap, secure supply of gas via a 1,kilometre pipeline across Morocco and the Strait, as well as exploration for oil in southern Algeria, Spain has also financed the laying of an underwater cable to link the Spanish and Moroccan electricity grids Gillespie, , pp.

World of Walls

But in the sphere of diplomatic relations between the two countries there is no doubt that the territorial dispute over Ceuta and Melilla has exercised an important influence, and the issue is raised whenever Morocco finds it opportune to do so. The event prompted King Hassan II to assert in an interview for Spanish television broadcast on 8 February that when Gibraltarian sovereignty was returned to Spain, not only Morocco but also the Soviet Union would be demanding the return of Ceuta and Melilla to Morocco on the grounds that the Soviet Union would not agree to a member of NATO having control of both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar.

The Spanish Foreign Ministry played down the importance of the comments. However, the pattern of action and reaction resulting from the existence of the Spanish enclaves in North Africa was encapsulated in this episode.


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Although it is true that King Hassan introduced modest political reforms during his reign allowing for apparently democratic elections,7 he nevertheless continued to determine and to direct both domestic and foreign policy. Often developments in Gibraltar were used in order to highlight the claim to the enclaves, while the Spanish Government tried to minimize the importance of such events in order not to disturb Spanish—Moroccan relations.

Exactly how this resolution was to be carried out was not made clear, and the Spanish Government adopted a wait-and-see policy towards the pronouncements emanating from the Libyan-Moroccan Union. King Hassan took the same line as that which he had adopted a year earlier, indicating that when Gibraltar was returned to Spain there would be international pressure on Spain to hand the North African enclaves to Morocco.

Although this was pure conjecture, there were suggestions that the Spanish Government accepted that it might come under such pressure, and that for that reason it was not in any hurry to solve the Gibraltar question with Britain see Chapter 7. This followed months of disturbances in Melilla following the introduction of the Immigration Law and the reaction to it by the Muslim community see Chapter 4.

However, this did not prevent King Hassan from adopting a novel tactic and inviting the Minister to an audience on 23 January, during which the King gave him a verbal message to be conveyed to King Juan Carlos a message which 8 Europe or Africa? What was clear from this and subsequent episodes was that King Hassan much preferred to deal directly with the Spanish monarch on matters of mutual interest such as the future of the enclaves, and it was not clear whether he fully appreciated that the Spanish Constitution required that such affairs should be the responsibility of the elected government of the day.

Certainly relations between the two countries remained strained for many months after this episode. Once again the Spanish Government found that the temperature between Madrid and Rabat had been raised by the Moroccan sovereign seizing an opportunity to exploit an apparently routine visit by a Spanish minister.

World of Walls - 3. The Fences of Ceuta and Melilla - Open Book Publishers

It was notable that such interventions by the Moroccan king regarding the two enclaves had become more frequent since tensions between the two communities in Melilla had come to the fore, and in particular since the passage of the Immigration Law in July see Chapter 5. Because of recent civil disturbances in Melilla he focused his remarks there rather than on both towns. He announced the drawing up of an autonomy statute although, as will be described in Chapter 2, this was not to be implemented until eight years later. The manoeuvres which had first been held in involved both naval and marine forces, and coincided with the arrival of a naval attachment to join the Spanish army and air force advisers in Rabat.

This made Morocco the first North African country to have Spanish advisers representing all three branches of the armed services. Moreover Morocco was a major customer of Spanish-built naval bases and warships, including its flagship commissioned in The fishing agreement and a new offensive By mid-June it was clear that Morocco was preparing a new offensive to set up bilateral negotiations with Spain on the future of Ceuta and Melilla. As for the subject of the discussions held during the customary audience between a visiting Spanish minister and King Hassan, the Spanish Foreign Minister said nothing.

Once again, however, the King took it upon himself to disseminate his views on the state of play between Spain and Morocco on the question of Ceuta and Melilla via the MAP news agency, just as he had done six months earlier. On 12 July he spoke to the British press on the eve of an official visit to London, insisting that there was an agreement between Morocco and Madrid to continue talks on the enclaves.

The introduction of visas Relations between Spain and Morocco took a turn for the worse in February when it was announced that under an EC directive Moroccan citizens as well as those from the other countries of the Maghreb would in future have to obtain a visa to enter Spain. Sweetening the pill The Spanish Government was grappling throughout this period with the dilemma of trying to respond to the demands of the enclaves for greater autonomy but without offending Morocco in the process. On the one hand the Government was anxious not to alienate the political parties in the enclaves, who were being encouraged to demand full autonomous status by the main national party of opposition, the Partido Popular PP , while on the other hand they were aware that the granting of autonomy to the enclaves see Chapter 2 could upset delicate relations between Madrid and Rabat.

Sixty per cent of this was in the form of infrastructure projects to be carried out in Morocco by Spanish companies, while the remainder would be available to finance the export of Spanish capital goods, particularly in those sectors of Spanish industry with a low level of activity in Morocco.


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Rabat saw the package as a reflection of a substantially improved attitude towards the country by Spain, as evidenced also by the fisheries accord and the agreement to allow the transit of Moroccan goods across Spain. The issue returns to the UN Following the transfer of Western Sahara in , Morocco did not put its case over the enclaves to the UN Decolonization Committee The impact of the enclaves on Spanish—Moroccan relations 13 for more than a decade.

It is not clear why Rabat chose this moment to take its case once more to the UN, other than the fact that the Spanish and Moroccan Foreign Ministers had met during the previous week in order to arrange the first visit of King Hassan II to Spain during the following year. It was noteworthy, and seen as a conciliatory gesture, that at a dinner given in his honour by King Juan Carlos on the first evening of the visit King Hassan made no reference to the enclaves, despite the fact that his host did make a reference to Western Sahara.

In broad terms the visit was an undoubted success. Agreements were signed on military cooperation, mutual protection of investments, and a feasibility study for a tunnel link between Spain and Morocco. In the event visits have not taken place with anything like the frequency originally proposed. Both sides were happy to adopt a policy whereby the closer the level of cooperation, the more difficult it would be for them to fall out over the issues which separated them.

That said, those issues were no nearer to being resolved. If the Moroccan leadership was trying to play down the differences with Spain over the enclaves, it gave no signs of discouraging Moroccan political parties from doing so.

When the autonomy statutes were again brought forward by the Spanish Government for discussion in April , there was an immediate and hostile reaction from all shades of political opinion in Morocco. This was the first of three such meetings organized by Istiqlal for the summer. The third meeting which drew a crowd of some people was held on 20 August in Hued-Zem, some kilometres south-east of Casablanca. The fact that this took place despite The impact of the enclaves on Spanish—Moroccan relations 15 the situation in Kuwait and also despite the fact that a general strike and riots in Fez had been harshly put down a week earlier, heightening concern in Madrid over human rights in Morocco was an indication of the importance attached by the Spanish Government to the maintenance of good relations with its neighbour to the south.

When the Gulf War began in February the line taken by King Hassan was to support Saddam Hussein with his heart but to be against him with his head, even to the extent of sending Moroccan troops to Saudi Arabia Collinson, , p. This allowed Morocco to have the best of both worlds and avoid suffering the opprobrium of either camp.

Treaty of Friendship The Gulf conflict had more immediate repercussions between the communities in the enclaves for the duration of the war see Chapter 4 than it did between governments. The absence of tension between Madrid and Rabat over the issue meant that there was no impediment to further steps towards a closer political relationship in the 16 Europe or Africa?

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Thus on 6 July, in the presence of the two monarchs, a Treaty of Friendship, Good Neighbourliness and Cooperation was signed between Spain and Morocco in Rabat, the first such treaty between Spain and an Arab nation. The Treaty was not ratified by the Spanish Parliament until September , and when it was debated it drew a number of criticisms from opposition parties, including the fact that it made no specific reference to the inviolability of frontiers of significance to Ceuta and Melilla.

The decision to visit the town appeared to be an impromptu one, although Basri hinted that it had been planned in advance. The events gave rise to mixed reactions: some politicians in Ceuta took them as a sign of recognition by Morocco of Spanish presence in the enclaves, to which Moroccan opposition parties strongly objected. The Treaty included the renunciation of the use of force in any disputes between the two countries, which was important for the enclaves, but political parties in Ceuta also took the Treaty as a sign that Madrid was preparing for an eventual transfer of the sovereignty of the enclaves to Rabat.

In reality there was little substance to either conclusion regarding recognition or transfer, but what the Treaty did signify was that both countries were determined not to allow the dispute to interfere with cooperation between them on a wide front. Although arguably this was done out of Spanish self-interest in order to revive the talks on the fishing agreement, it certainly did no harm to Spanish—Moroccan relations, and guaranteed that for the foreseeable future contentious issues such as the enclaves would be quietly left to one side.

Indeed it was noteworthy that Morocco did not refer to its claim to Ceuta and Melilla for over two years after this episode, despite problems in the summer of when for the first time illegal immigrants began to try to enter mainland Spain in large numbers both from the Moroccan coast and via the enclaves see Chapter 5. This was due in part to the continuing uncertainty over the referendum in Western Sahara, the expulsion from Algeciras in July of 75 Moroccans with false documents, and the proposal by the Spanish Agriculture Ministry to freeze quotas of leading Moroccan produce in a proposed EU—Maghreb association agreement.

King Hassan led the way by raising the issue on the occasion of the 33rd anniversary of his accession to the throne on 3 March , the first such anniversary on which he had done so since The reaction in Spain was that this tough line was being taken partly because of the impending autonomy statutes, but also in response to further initiatives by the nationalist party Istiqlal, and in the context of imminent activity in the UN over the promised referendum in Western Sahara. Clearly Spanish—Moroccan relations were now much more delicate than they had been for several years.

In the ensuing debate on the programme, the leader of Istiqlal, Mohamed Bucetta, called on the Government to set a timetable for negotiations and the return of the enclaves. Spain hints at dialogue The Moroccan position clearly meant that when Spanish Foreign Minister Javier Solana made his regular visit to Rabat on 21 July he found it difficult to avoid discussion of the subject of the enclaves in 20 Europe or Africa? Some commentators in Spain, however, saw this renewed offensive by the Moroccan Government as being for the benefit of the opposition parties, who were objecting to the steps being taken in Spain towards the implementation of the autonomy statutes for the enclaves.

Such a limited agenda will not have satisfied Morocco, but in itself it marked a new departure. The main Spanish opposition party certainly thought so, and two days later in Parliament the PP called upon the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to clarify their comments. The Government insisted that there was no possibility of the question of sovereignty being discussed, and that their position on the enclaves had not changed.

But the matter did not rest there. The impact of the enclaves on Spanish—Moroccan relations 21 The strategy of Filali Relations between Spain and Morocco became increasingly strained in the ensuing months as Morocco took a tough stance in the renegotiation of the fishing agreement21 and as Spain finally reached the point of granting autonomous status to the enclaves see Chapter 2.

In a policy statement to the Moroccan Parliament on 5 March the Prime Minister ensured that a reference to the enclaves and the Western Sahara problem was included. What was notable on this occasion, however, was the conciliatory tone compared to previous occasions. With these priorities, and with the run-up to a general election not being the best time for any government to make concessions on territorial matters, it was scarcely surprising that Morocco did not press for discussions on the issue of the enclaves at this juncture.

A new stage of cooperation? The next occasion when there was high-level contact between Spanish and Moroccan leaders involved the two Ministers of the Interior, Jaime Mayor and Dris Basri, at the beginning of October, when the main subjects on the agenda were illegal immigration and 24 Europe or Africa?