Sánchez meets with the King of Morocco

President Pedro Sánchez and King Mohamed VI met this Thursday in Morocco at the first meeting between the two after the diplomatic turn of the Spanish Government on Western Sahara, in which he showed his support for the Moroccan autonomy proposal for the former Spanish colony.

The Moroccan king has invited Sánchez and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, to a dinner to break the fast for Ramadan or iftar What a symbolic act of the end of the crisis between the two countries and the beginning of the new stage in the bilateral relationship as a result of Spanish support for the Moroccan autonomy plan for Western Sahara, which they considered “the most serious, credible and realistic basis for the resolution of this dispute”. This decision has meant a change in the policy that our country had maintained until now, always neutral and aligned with the United Nations.

Previously, the Spanish president had a brief informal conversation with journalists, whom he assured that this Thursday’s meeting “is important” and “will bring very positive things”. “For multiple reasons, not only migratory, we had to normalize relations” with Morocco, he stated. In addition, he insisted that they work “for the general interest” of Spain.

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The Executive has at all times defended its diplomatic turn as a way of guaranteeing “mutual respect”, “the territorial integrity of Spain” and the “stability, tranquility and security” of the people of Ceuta and Melilla. Likewise, they maintain that support for the Moroccan autonomy plan does not imply leaving the margins of the United Nations.

The reopening of borders or immigration, among the issues to be discussed

Initially, the visit was scheduled as a meeting in Rabat between Albares and his Moroccan counterpart for April 1. However, after a Telephone conversation held last Thursday between Sánchez and Mohamed VIit was set to be a joint meeting.

Albares advanced that among the issues to be discussed would be the re-establishment of maritime connections and the movement of goods and people, as well as the one known as ‘Operation passage of the Estecho’, paralyzed in previous years due to the pandemic and that has caused great economic losses to Spanish shipping companies.

On the other hand, the fight against illegal immigration would also be included on the agenda. Precisely, this Thursday the BOE has published an agreement between Spain and Morocco on cooperation in terms of security in 2019. Thus, both countries will collaborate in the fight against criminal actions and, in particular, against terrorism, human trafficking and illegal drug trafficking, among others.

End to the diplomatic crisis

The diplomatic crisis between Spain and Morocco originated almost a year ago with the admission to a hospital in Logroño of the leader of the Polisario Front, Brahim Gali, due to COVID-19, a decision that Rabat did not like. In May, hundreds of migrants, many of them minors, crossed the border in Ceuta in the face of the passivity of the Moroccan authorities in what was one of the biggest migration crises in recent years.

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That is why the Government has been adopting throughout this time different measures to reduce diplomatic tensionsuch as the appointment of Albares as Foreign Minister to replace Arancha González Laya or the sending of public messages of reconciliation.

The final step was the letter sent by Sánchez to King Mohamed VI in mid-March, in which he recognized the Moroccan proposal on the Sahara as the most “serious, credible and realistic for the resolution of this dispute”.

Spain supports the Moroccan proposal on the autonomy of Western Sahara

This Thursday, the Congress of Deputies has approved by majority the initiative -presented by United We Can, ERC and EH Bildu- that ratifies the support for Western Sahara so that it can choose its future in a self-determination referendum, as stipulated in the resolutions from the ONU. The PSOE has been left alone in the vote as it is the only party that has voted against.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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