Algeria intends to review its agreements with Spain and France over the issue of Western Sahara, Rai Al-Youm has reported. The Algerian government has refused to receive French Prime Minister Jean Castex due to developments in the issue and the presidential election in France.
Castex had requested a visit to Algeria within the context of the current reconciliation between the two countries. The visit was scheduled to take place over the past few days.
"Algeria's reservations about receiving the French prime minister is motivated by the wish to stay away from domestic political rivalry in France relating to the presidential election," it was reported. Castex is affiliated with President Emmanuel Macron, who is standing for office again.
The rejection of a visit by Castex is also said to be down to the French role in persuading Spain to support the Western Sahara self-governance proposal presented by Morocco to the Polisario Front in return for waiving the principle of a referendum on self-determination. Sources apparently pointed out that while French diplomats were preparing for Castex's visit to Algeria, they were also coordinating with Spain and the United States to push Madrid to change its position on the Western Sahara conflict.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez sent a message to Morocco's King Mohamed VI two weeks ago praising the self-governance proposal as a practical solution to the Western Sahara issue. Algeria is a supporter of the independence-seeking Polisario Front.
"It is clear that Algeria will review all agreements with Spain, in all fields," said Chakib Kaid, secretary-general of the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He confirmed that Spain did not inform Algiers of what is seen as a "perversity in Madrid's foreign policy." Algeria, he added, is "astonished by this unjustified change."
Having withdrawn its ambassador from Madrid in protest, Algeria is now likely to boost its relations with Italy at Spain's expense.
Algeria is Spain's main supplier of natural gas through the Med-Gas pipeline, which replaced the "Maghreb–Europe Gas Pipeline" through Morocco. The latter arrangement was ended by Algeria due to the crisis with the Kingdom, with which it has no diplomatic relations.