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Spain mobilises Europe envoys to counter Morocco's diplomatic attack

Spanish army officer speaks with young migrants who will be returned to Morocco on 19 May 2021. [Diego Radames - Anadolu Agency]
Spanish army officer speaks with young migrants who will be returned to Morocco on 19 May 2021. [Diego Radames - Anadolu Agency]

Spain mobilised its envoys to Europe to confront the diplomatic attack launched by Morocco, with the aim of clarifying the Spanish vision of the illegal migration crisis and the file of Western Sahara and independence leader, Brahim Ghali.

"Morocco is active in various capitals of the European Union to present its version of events related to the current crisis with Spain," said a memorandum signed by Camilo Villarino, director of the Cabinet of the Spanish Foreign Minister.

According to El Confidencial, Minister of Foreign Affairs Gonzalez Laya sent a communiqué to the diplomatic representations of his country regarding the migration crisis and the Western Sahara file.

The minister said: "It is necessary to proactively assist our diplomats in their contacts with the foreign ministries of the European Union countries."

Tension between Morocco and Spain started to escalate immediately after Madrid refused, through its foreign minister, then-US President Donald Trump's recognition of Rabat's sovereignty over the Western Sahara, which was followed by the indefinite postponement of a high-level meeting between the Spanish and Moroccan governments.

The head of the Western Sahara independence movement, the Polisario Front, Ghali is currently receiving treatment in Spain. Morocco says he entered the country on a fake Algerian passport, a claim Spain denies.

The Spanish EPA agency quoted a government source as saying in response to the statements issued by Moroccan officials: "Ghali did not enter Spain with a forged passport, although he used another identity to be admitted in a hospital in Logrono, where he is still receiving treatment for the coronavirus."

READ: Moroccans demand boycott of Spanish products

According to the same source, the Sahrawi president entered Spain through Algeria with the passport he usually uses to travel, and which meets the required legal conditions.

The Spanish foreign minister renewed her country's position on the Western Sahara issue, saying that "Spain remains firmly committed to the political solution that must be reached within the framework offered by the United Nations."

She said in an interview with the local La Razon newspaper on Friday: "This is the position of Spain, and this position cannot be changed because Spain is a country that respects international legitimacy," adding: "Neither the reception of the Polisario leader nor the pressures exerted by Morocco will make Spain change its stance on Western Sahara."

Morocco has been in conflict with the Algeria-backed separatist Polisario group over the Western Sahara since 1975, after the Spanish occupation ended. It turned into an armed confrontation that lasted until 1991 and ended with the signing of a ceasefire agreement.

Rabat insists on its right to govern the region, but proposed autonomous rule in the Western Sahara under its sovereignty, but the Polisario Front wants a referendum to let the people determine the future of the region. Algeria has been supporting the Front's proposal and hosts refugees from the region.

The 1991 ceasefire came to an end last year after Morocco resumed military operations in the El Guergarat crossing, a buffer zone between the territory claimed by the state of Morocco and the self-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which the Polisario said was a provocation.

By launching the operation, Morocco "seriously undermined not only the ceasefire and related military agreements but also any chances of achieving a peaceful and lasting solution to the decolonization question of the Western Sahara," Ghali said in a letter to the UN.

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