Madrid and Rabat conclude a “historic” reconciliation after a dispute

This normalization was made possible by Madrid’s decision to show its support for Morocco’s autonomy plan for Western Sahara.

Spain and Morocco are committed “Open a new stage” Their relations have been suspended for a year, after Madrid backed down on the Western Sahara issue, during a visit by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez Thursday, April 7th, to Rabat.

“We agreed to define a sustainable and ambitious roadmap,” Sanchez told reporters, calling those interviews “Historic moment”. King Mohammed VI, accompanied by Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Alpars, received the head of the Spanish government before the Ramadan Iftar in his honor. A sign of the importance of his visit in the eyes of Moroccans. In a joint declaration, the Moroccan King and the Spanish Prime Minister agreed“The inauguration of an unprecedented stage in the relations between the two countries”.

This normalization was made possible by Madrid’s decision to show its support for Morocco’s autonomy plan for Western Sahara. Spain “Recognizes the importance of the Sahara issue for Morocco, as well as Morocco’s serious and credible efforts within the framework of the United Nations to find a mutually acceptable solution.”notes the joint statement. “As such, Spain considers the Moroccan initiative for autonomy, which was presented in 2007, to be the most dangerous, realistic and credible basis for resolving this conflict.”reaffirms the document.

Abandoning the “historic” position

A few hours before his arrival in Rabat, the socialist prime minister suffered a setback in the Spanish Chamber of Deputies, who denounced the abdication of the post. “Historical” Madrid’s neutrality towards the former Spanish colony. The conflict in Western Sahara – a vast desert region rich in phosphates and waters full of fish – has pitted Morocco against the Sahrawi separatists of the Polisario Front, backed by Algeria, for decades. While Rabat calls for an autonomy situation under Moroccan sovereignty, the Polisario calls for a referendum for self-determination under the auspices of the United Nations.

If Pedro Sanchez refutes any idea “turn” In this file, he denied his left-wing allies and the right-wing opposition, as well as the Polisario and Algeria, the supplier of gas to Spain. Algerian daily to express denounce Thursday “Sanchez’s dangerous game has exacerbated tensions in the region”.

The Spanish leader was visited at the invitation of King Mohammed VI As part of a new partnership between the two neighboring kingdoms, which put an end to a deep diplomatic crisis. “One of the first goals will be to restore the movement of goods and merchandise at the border crossings of Ceuta and Melilla”The Spanish enclaves located on the northern coast of Morocco, Pedro Sanchez said after his brief visit. Morocco halted this cross-border trade, which is considered smuggling, in 2019. “We will move forward with the gradual reopening of the border crossings, to ensure an orderly flow of people (…) and goods will also be traded normally”the Spanish leader promised. “Maritime passenger links between the two countries will be restored immediately and gradually.” Until the full opening, the statement details.

A high-level meeting between the two governments is scheduled before the end of the year to implement the “road map” set in Rabat. in between ‘Areas of common interest’she “reactivate” Cooperation in the field of migration and delimitation of marine areas on the Atlantic coast. Working groups will be created to handle these sensitive files. Also among the priorities: economic exchange – Spain is Morocco’s first trading partner – and cooperation in the field of energy, especially after Algeria closed the Maghreb-European gas pipeline (GME) but also industrial and cultural.

For Madrid, the main purpose of restoring relations with Rabat is to ensure its “cooperation” in controlling illegal immigration, while Morocco, from which most immigrants leave for Spain, has been regularly accused, by many observers, of using them as leverage. . The Spanish government also hopes that Rabat will ease its claim to the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. But many analysts warn that there are no real guarantees Spain will get from Morocco.

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