Spain, Morocco seek reset of testy relationship at Rabat summit | News

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Spain and Morocco had agreed to put aside their differences as they sought to mend a relationship marked by frequent disputes over migration and territory.

Mr. Sanchez was speaking on Thursday at a summit in Rabat, where the two countries signed about 20 agreements to boost trade and investment, including credit lines of up to 800 million euros.

We have agreed to commit to mutual respect, whereby in our discourse and in our political practice we will avoid anything that we know is offensive to the other party, especially in relation to our respective areas of sovereignty,” Sanchez said.

There have been frequent diplomatic crises involving Spanish enclaves in North Africa, Morocco’s dispute with insurgents in Western Sahara, and the arrival of refugees and migrants. in Spain every year through Morocco.

Morocco refuses to recognize Spain’s sovereignty over the lands of Ceuta and Melilla, but last year the two countries agreed to open their first customs control point at Ceuta.

Madrid says it reflects Rabat’s recognition of the lands as foreign territory, but Morocco has made no public statements reflecting its longstanding position that the lands should be part of its territory. change.

Sanchez recovers friendly relationship with Rabat in March 2022 after he reversed Spain’s policy on the disputed territory of Western Sahara by supporting Morocco’s proposal to establish an autonomous region. The Algerian-backed Polisario Front separatist movement seeks to establish an independent state in the region.

Yasmine Hasnaoui, a North Africa expert at the Saharan Al Andalous Institute, told Al Jazeera that Mr. Sanchez’s visit to Rabat marked the re-establishment of relations with Morocco.

She said: “The visit of the Spanish government to Morocco is ushering in a new era thanks to a clear roadmap after Spain unequivocally acknowledged Morocco’s historic sovereignty over the land. their territories in Western Sahara through self-government.

“The Prime Minister of Spain reiterated today that [in] this new phase of bilateral relations with Morocco, [it] is seen as an important partner with the EU in the fight against extremism and terrorism and in support of the bloc’s migration policy.

As the third largest destination for Spanish exports in the world, Hasnaoui said Spain also considers Morocco a strategic economic partner.

She added: “Spain has become aware that its profits are not only found in Europe but that its interests are mainly found in Morocco and the south in general.

But forging better relations between neighbors has forced members of Sanchez’s Spanish Socialist Workers Party into some uncomfortable positions.

Last month, the country’s MEPs voted against a resolution in the European Parliament calling on Morocco to improve its record on press freedom. MEP Juan Fernando Lopez said this week that maintaining friendly neighborliness sometimes involves “swallowing a toad”.

Tensions with Algeria

Madrid’s diversion in Western Sahara drew the ire of Algeria, an ally of the Polisario Front, which suspend trade with Spain and warned it could cut off natural gas flows to Spain even as the country forges closer gas ties with Italy.

According to the Ministry of Industry, Spain’s exports to Algeria fell 41% to 1 billion euros in the January-November 2022 period from a year earlier. Its exports to Morocco increased 27% to 10.8 billion euros in the same period.

A Spanish government source said Spain hopes to receive a significant portion of the 45 billion euros that Morocco is expected to invest by 2050 to improve its infrastructure.

The person said Spanish companies are well positioned to win concessions in areas important to Rabat’s development plans, such as water sanitation and renewable energy.

State-owned rail operators Renfe and Adif are working with their Moroccan partner to develop new train lines, which could mean €6 billion in business.

Another government source said Spain was discussing how to remove Morocco from its gray list of money-laundering countries.

A delegation from the Financial Action Task Force, the Paris-based global watchdog for terrorist financing and money laundering, visited Morocco last month and is expected to announce it on Thursday. later this month their decision on whether Morocco can be removed from the list.

In Rabat on Thursday, Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch expressed satisfaction at Spain’s support for Morocco’s autonomy plan as the “most reliable solution” to settle the dispute. Western Sahara, but did not mention an agreement to set aside any sovereignty disputes.

A joint statement made no mention of Spanish enclaves in Morocco, although it did reiterate Spain’s new stance towards Western Sahara.

Morocco has said it expects Spain to assume the upcoming presidency of the European Union, meaning it can act as a bridge for better relations with the bloc.

Source by [author_name]


News7h: Update the world's latest breaking news online of the day, breaking news, politics, society today, international mainstream news .Updated news 24/7: Entertainment, the World everyday world. Hot news, images, video clips that are updated quickly and reliably

Related Articles

Back to top button