The Government now focuses on “the absolute centrality” of the UN to resolve the conflict in the Sahara

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The Government is now focusing on the

Spain “is convinced of the absolute centrality of the United Nations” in the resolution of the Western Sahara conflict. “Let us not confuse the role of Spain and that of the UN. n on top of the table. What Spain has to do is support everything it can”, said the Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares. The head of Spanish diplomacy has appeared in the Senate to explain the result of the summit of The high level with Morocco, and has repeatedly focused on the role of the UN, in the face of criticism from the opposition for the “turn” of Spain from the traditional position of neutrality to consider the autonomist proposal of Morocco as “the most serious, credible and realistic base” for solving the future of the former Spanish colony.This is how Pedro Sánchez defined it in a letter to the king Mohamed VI made public by Morocco a year ago. A position reiterated at the Rabat High-Level Meeting on February 1 and 2, in which Pedro Sánchez described the Rabat solution of converting the Sá as “the most serious basis” ;hara in autonomy within the country.

Albares had to face this Tuesday the  unanimous criticism of all the groups present (with the exception of the socialist) on the management of the conflict in Western Sahara and the change in Spanish politics. The most repeated question has been “what has it been used for?” They have been asked by representatives of the Popular Party, Más Madrid, or the Catalan or Canary Islands groups.

“What have we achieved? A High Level Meeting full of grievances, with King Mohamed VI who has stood him up,” said PP senator Pilar Rojo Noguera, who has assured that her party&nbsp ;has requested details of the agreements signed with Morocco, which have not been made public. “Does he have the legitimacy to approve, no matter how ministerial he is, agreements that violate [international] law?” Pablo Gómez Perpinyà, senator for Más Madrid, has rebuked him. “Does the Government of Spain respect the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people?” he asked on two occasions, without obtaining a response from the minister.

“We must finish with the 'historical twist' mantra”,Albares has said in this regard. “Spain is with the United Nations, next to the United Nations and behind the United Nations,” he insisted, recalling that he told the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, in a meeting ;n last Wednesday; and to his special envoy for the Sáhara, Staffan de Mistura, last Saturday. “They will have our support to unravel a conflict that has been going on for more than half a century“, emphasized the Foreign Minister. “It's too long without a solution.”

The United Nations has a specific mission to achieve a self-determination referendum for the Saharawi people, the Minurso. An agreement has not been reached for decades, and several high-level diplomats have resigned after failing to see it through. One of the fundamental problems is the preparation of a census of voting. The Polisario Front asks that it be the Sahrawis, both those who live in the area controlled by Morocco and those who are in the refugee camps in Algeria. Morocco wants Moroccans living in the Sahara region (which the Polisario Front describes as “settlers”) to vote as well. The Sahara was occupied by Morocco with the “green march” ordered by the then Alaouite king, Hassan II, to the former Spanish colony in 1975. In addition to the census, another issue is  what what would be voted on in that referendum. It could be the independence of the Sahara, but also autonomy within Morocco, experts say.

Customs openings

The minister The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has defended itself against criticism from the opposition, alleging that the improvement in diplomatic relations with Morocco has benefited the Canary Islands, Andalusia and Ceuta and Melilla. He has said that good relations with the neighbor with whom they share land bordersis a “State policy” in which the opposition should accompanyto the Government. Morocco closed unilaterally closed the Melilla customs office in 2018. Now it has promised to reopen it and create a new one in Ceuta, where it did not exist until now.

It has focused on the “orderly and The gradual removal of customs in Ceuta and Melilla” which has begun with Morocco and which seeks to create “a zone of shared prosperity through a legal and controlled flow of goods on both sides of the border”. The opening schedule, which senators from the different groups in Congress have requested, says that it is not made public to avoid a crowd gathering the night before. According to the minister, it is “the result of discreet, patient diplomatic work” and “not in keeping with the times of Twitter”, to avoid scenes from the past and consolidate a 21st century border between two countries that, due to having a land border should have the best neighborly relations.”