General Franco makes his position clear in 1972

Taken from the UK National Archives, click on the logo to see the original.

Transcript of Official Document

Record of conversation during the call by the Foreign and 
Commonwealth Secretary on HE General Franco at the Pardo 
Palace, Madrid at 1.00 pm on Tuesday, 29th February 1972.


The Rt Hon Sir Alec         HE General Francisco Franco
Douglas-Home, KT, MP        HE Sr Gregorio Lopez Bravo

HE Sir John Russell         HE el Marques de Santa Cruz

1. The conversation began with social niceties which 
pass on to a discussion of salmon fishing, the poaching 
in Spanish waters by Danish boats and salmon disease in 
Scottish rivers.

2. Polite generalities were then exchanged about 
Anglo/Spanish relations in general and the continued need 
for improvement and rapprochament.

3. Sir Alec Doublas-Home then broached the question of 
Gibraltar and developed the basic principle of HMG's 
position, namely that they could no coerce the Gibraltarians 
into accepting transfer to a third power against their will. 
That will, at the moment, was steadfastly set against 
incorporation in Spain whose Government, the Gibraltarians 
felt, had shown itself hostile over the last few years, 
particularly in the restrictions imposed.  Sir Alec wished 
to ask General Franco personally and directly whether some 
gesture could not now be made towards the Gibraltarians in 
the form, of an at least partial lifting of those restrictions.  
Sir Alec added that he already knew from  the Spanish Foreign 
Minister that this would be difficult; but he still wished to 
put it to the Head of State.  When the interpreter reached 
the word "difficult" General Franco interjected "impossible". 
At this Sir Alec said that surely nothing was impossible for 
the Head of State?  "This is" replied General Franco.

4. In the course of further discussions on the same point 
Sir Alec Douglas-Home suggested that the Spaniards might 
welcome a visit by a small group of responsible Gibraltarians, 
including perhaps some civil servants, who would be able to 
see for themselves how pleasent life is in Spain and how 
agreeable the Spaniards can be. General Franco neatly 
sidestepped this question.

5. A further 10 minutes or so were then spent on a general 
discussion, during which Sir Alec Douglas-Home explained 
that he would be going home to consult his colleagues on 
his exchanges with Sr Lopez Bravo but that he felt that 
it would be difficult in present circumstances to make any 
progress on the matter of sovereignty.

6. The interview concluded with further complimentary 
exchanges of a personal nature and an invitation from 
General Franco to Sir Alec to return to Spain for some 

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