Spain disputes Portugal islands

By Brendan de Beer, in News · 05-09-2013 10:22:00 · 15 Comments
Spain disputes Portugal islands

Spain’s well-documented squabble with Britain over Gibraltar is not the first bilateral territorial issue Madrid has initiated this summer, it emerged this week. Back at the start of July, Spain quietly lodged an official request with the United Nations to have Portugal’s southern-most territory, the Savage Islands, declared as rocks and not as islands. The demand issued by Madrid is aimed at reducing Portugal’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), currently the largest of any European nation, and will allow Spanish vessels from the Canary Islands to venture closer to Madeira.

Measuring a mere 2.73 square kilometres or 20 hectares, although its highest point is 165 metres high, the Savage Islands are at the centre of an international dispute which Madrid has decided to take to the highest international level and seek a UN resolution.
The islands are located between Madeira and the Canary Islands, allowing Portugal’s territorial waters to reach within 40 nautical miles of the Spanish territory. In terms of distance, the Savage Islands are substantially closer to the Canaries than they are to Madeira.
These islands have been a Portuguese territory since 1438, the same year that a human being first set foot on Madeira, unlike the Canary Islands which was colonised by the Spanish.
They are inhabited only by a small team of wardens from the Madeira Nature Park, though the Portuguese navy has seized a series of Spanish fishing vessels over the years for breaching territorial borders.
But Spain and its fishermen from the Canaries firmly believe this tiny set of islands cannot be classed as anything but rocks. While Madrid insists it does not have an issue over the sovereignty of the Savage Islands, having them classified as rocks would effectively eliminate sovereign rights Portugal has held for almost 700 years.
Responding this week to the emergence of Spain’s moves to alter the designation of the Savage Islands, Portugal said it is preparing a document for the UN in which it contests claims being lodged across the border.

Foreign Minister Rui Machete this week declined to publicise the content of the document, but said it does underline Portuguese hegemony over the island region.
Looking to diffuse a rise of divisive nationalism in the Iberian Peninsula, Minister Machete said: “This is not a bilateral discussion between two countries but rather an interpretation that each side is making.”
While details of Madrid’s actions only emerged close to two months after their bid to shrink Portuguese territorial waters had been presented to the UN, President Cavaco Silva paid a surprise visit to the islands only two weeks after Spain initiated this action.
The President also became the first Portuguese head-of-state to spend a night in the territory when he slept on the Vasco da Gama frigate on the night of 16 July.
Cavaco Silva’s visit was criticised at the time as it took place when Portugal’s coalition government had been rocked by a series of resignations, but observers were this week suggesting the visit was not just a mere coincidence, bearing in mind diplomatic measures undertaken by Spain’s UN representatives in New York.
The Savage Islands are not the only territory which is being contested by Portugal and Spain.
The town of Olivença, located south of Elvas in the Alentejo and Badajoz across the border, has been the centre of a dispute that has lasted two centuries.
The Portuguese Defence Force’s Geographical Institute (IGE) has repeatedly declined to draw the geographical line between Portugal and Spain where this town is situated, leaving a huge void along the border which divides the two countries.
The geographical omission by the Defence Force has been justified by the fact that Olivença is a Portuguese territory occupied by the Spanish and no lines will be drawn until Portugal wins the battle the Vienna Treaty said it had in 1817. It was then that Spain’s forces, backed by Napoleon were defeated after an occupation which had lasted 16 years.
Vienna thereby cancelled the Badajoz Treaty in 1801 which saw Portugal surrender Olivença to Spain and Napoleonic forces ending more than 500 years of Portugal rule, after it was founded in 1297.
Despite diplomatic scurries, the United Nations is only expected to issue a verdict on the Savage Islands in 2015, while the issue of Olivença is set to remain undecided.


Thanks for including the photo. I'm not a rockologist but that place is the biggest damned rock I've ever seen. Go to it Portugal - our friends and oldest allies!

by Robin Richardson from UK on 04-11-2017 09:55:00

These Spanish gypsy-moors are not only pathetic and greedy, they are criminals. The Ilhas Selvagens have always been Portuguese since they were discovered and they are not rocks by islets. The Spaniards are greedy pigs who need more fish for their paellas... go fuck yourselves your disgusting, dusky, one eyebrowed mongrels. Silly cunts don't seem to realise the whole world is laughing at them. They want Gibraltar when the Gibraltarians themselves are horrified at the prospect, then they want to keep territories in Morocco which are effectively in Africa. So what are the Spanish really? Neither European nor Arabs, something in-between is it? They belong in the shithole that bred them: Espana = Pile of shit

by LusitanianPower from Porto on 14-03-2016 05:35:00

I am tired of hearing about the spanish attitude.wrong,they should be ashamed of themselves.dion

by dion pontes from Other on 16-11-2015 02:19:00

Spain is a fascist country. Catalonia must leave it and to be the next state of Europe.

by Carles from Other on 14-09-2013 02:00:00

All I can say is the Spanish people must be very stupid not to see this is all planned to take the heat off the corruption going on by their government, while half the country are starving.

by George Martin from Other on 09-09-2013 07:45:00

Portugal should start building houses and other buildings to turn these so-called 'rocks' into proper islands and prevent more Castillan imperialist assaults. Increased spending on the Military, particularly in the Navy, Marines and Air Force would be ideal too. All of this while complaining to the UN about Castille's refusal to honour their 1815 Vienna Treaty promise of returning Olivença to Portugal and about the cultural genocide there. Finally, an alliance with Catalunya, the Basque Country, Morocco and the UK would leave Castille trapped in its aggressive imperialism.

by Reboltado from Porto on 09-09-2013 06:01:00


by jabamor from Porto on 08-09-2013 08:32:00

Spain does't dispute the sovereignity of these tiny islands. Actuallly, the islands are declared rocks (12nm territorial waters),. Portugal wants to become this rocks in islands (territorial waters 100nm). Close to this islands are the canary islands (Spanish) so, in case of extendiong the territorial waters, spanish economic zone will be invaded by the portuguese. Spain only don't want this trocks to became islands. Nothing about sovereingnity.

by Yer from Other on 08-09-2013 11:31:00

Spain does't dispute the sovereignity of these tiny islands. Actuallly, the islands are declared rocks (12nm territorial waters),. Portugal wants to become this rocks in islands (territorial waters 100nm). Close to this islands are the canary islands (Spanish) so, in case of extendiong the territorial waters, spanish economic zone will be invaded by the portuguese. Spain only don't want this trocks to became islands. Nothing about sovereingnity.

by Yer from Other on 08-09-2013 11:30:00

This is ridiculous, and Spain forget they have little rocks like perejil just 100 metres from morocco?
Which they defend as Spanish territory?
They are sick.
I hope EU seriously does something with them!

by Errol from UK on 07-09-2013 07:10:00

Hey Spain, those who wants everything loses everything.

typical behaviour from arrogant Spaniard.

by anonimous from Lisbon on 07-09-2013 04:21:00

many thanks for this news ! BTW I think you will find that 2.73 km²=273 HA (two hundred seventy-three hectares, not twenty)

by John Sheppard Capurro from Other on 07-09-2013 09:48:00

Seems to me that S_pain seems to want to annoy everyone but only to take the heat away from their corrupt govt who are in trouble because of the Barcenas debacle. They show their true colours , bullies and liars. Maybe they should be kicked out of Europe because it seems to me that all they want is to take and not give.

by Ron from UK on 06-09-2013 05:59:00

Looks like Spain is trying to build up it`s empire again...

by Ian William Happer from UK on 06-09-2013 05:25:00

This does not surprise me. Spain's politicians remind me of spoilt children.

by Bernard from Other on 06-09-2013 02:34:00
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