I have been following, with the greatest interest, the activities of the “Reypública” Fiction State, led by Jaime Pozuelo-Monfort, who attracted to this common cause figures of great cultural and political plan of both countries, among which I emphasize Federico Mayor Zaragoza.
In order for the relationship between Spain and Portugal to become a true peninsular alliance, I believe that, in addition to the institutional cooperation between the respective Governments, there is a need for information and culture that is both profound and accessible to both peoples.
There are deep ties of mutual sympathy between the Spaniards and Portuguese, and there remains a mutual ignorance about the realities of both countries. Even with our brotherly people of Galicia who speak a beautiful “old Portuguese”, mutual knowledge mainly covers the neighboring regions.
Even today I hear Spaniards, friends of Portugal, say that only by historical errors have our two countries united. Now I cannot imagine a German saying the same thing to an Austrian or a Frenchman talking about it to a Belgian, even though these pairs of countries speak the same language and have had experiences of political union in the past.
In a more positive way, I want to give the example of Brazil, where the teaching of Spanish has become compulsory and in neighboring Spanish speaking countries, where students are obliged to learn Portuguese. In our case, learning the language of the neighboring country is optional. Significantly, the Parliament of Galicia voted unanimously in March 2014 the Law for the use of the Portuguese language and links with Lusophony.
People need these signs of goodwill from their rulers. In this sense, I have proposed a solution to the political problem of Olivença, which would consist of giving its inhabitants a dual nationality status, with the Autonomous Municipality having two Heads of State: Spain and Portugal.
The Principality of Andorra also has two heads of state, the President of the French Republic and the Bishop of Urgel. I am convinced that the Oliventinos, who have the last word, would welcome their territory to gain notoriety on the map of Europe and the tourist circuits.
This solution to the Olivença diplomatic problem would have an advantage for Spain, as it would allow a similar solution to be found for Gibraltar. If Spain pretends to ignore that Olivença is a Portuguese territory under Spanish administration, it never fails to remember – and very well – that Gibraltar is a Spanish territory under British occupation.
It is not possible, with a minimum of consistency, to claim Gibraltar and ignore Olivença when the legal situation in Olivenza is much clearer than that of Gibraltar. Olivença was officially returned to Portugal by the Congress of Vienna in 1815, a return that has not yet been made. I believe in the saying “good accounts make good friends“.
There are many aspects in which fraternal cooperation between Portuguese and Spanish would be highly advantageous for both sides. I am thinking in particular of cooperation between farmers in border regions, in the fisheries sector and in industry.
It is evident that, in many cases, Spanish entrepreneurs have invested successfully in Portugal and there are also cases of Portuguese investments in Spain. It is also clear that, as both countries belong to the European Union, trade has grown exponentially.
I believe, however, that partnerships and alliances between entrepreneurs, cooperatives, and associations of both countries should be developed. We could together have a very positive effect on the cork industry, the export of fruit, the protection of the environment and the quality of the water of the common rivers.
Faced with the winds of discord and conquest that are felt in the current international climate, Portugal and Spain could set an example of a loyal cooperation attitude.
I hope, as soon as the initiative of “Reypública” gives rise to a true “peninsular alliance”, for the benefit of the two peoples and their democracies.