LETTER : Drug-running is not Gibraltar's fault

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The Independent Online
Sir: There is a way to deal with the problem of Gibraltar: Britain could swap Gibraltar for the Spanish territories in north Africa, Ceuta and Melilla. Britain could then keep one of them as a freeport and military base and give the other back to Morocco. All three countries would benefit.

There is another way to sort out territorial squabbles. If individuals want some land and they can afford it, they buy it. Why shouldn't countries do the same? Much of the territory of the USA, including Alaska, was bought, rather than fought for. This way, countries needing land could deal with others needing cash or resources. To prevent exploitation of the poorer by the richer and to ensure proper protection for inhabitants of exchanged lands, all deals could be required to be approved by, say, a United Nations tribunal.

Land-hungry Japan could seek to purchase all or part of Sakhalin and the Kuriles and give the economy of the land-rich Russian Federation a boost with some hard currency. Taiwan could formally acquire independence from mainland China with a cash sum. Boers wanting an Afrikaaner homeland (after all, they have been in the Cape since 1615) could satisfactorily buy one. If Israel relinquished some of its occupied territories, it might reasonably try to acquire some new lands, perhaps from Jordan or Egypt.

Territorial and national ambitions could be achieved with good will and understanding and without bloodshed and the money changing hands would boost the word economy.

Trevor Lyons

Senior Lecturer in Law

Staffordshire University