Spain is preparing for a long diplomatic crisis with Morocco. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, assured this Friday that his commitment is to ensure that “the relationship [con dicho país] be a solid relationship, in which unilateral actions are impossible [como la entrada irregular de más de 10.000 inmigrantes en Ceuta en mayo pasado] and is based on trust and mutual benefit”. And that objective will pursue him, he added, “take as long as it takes.” For the moment, Foreign Affairs assumes that the end is not near, since Albares’ first visit to Rabat, as he has acknowledged, is not on his agenda. Nor is it known when the Moroccan ambassador, Karima Benyaich, who was summoned to Rabat last May for consultations, will return to Madrid, although the head of Spanish diplomacy would like her to do so.
However, Albares has downplayed the words of the Moroccan Prime Minister, Aziz Ajanuch, who, in an interview broadcast on Wednesday night, called for “ambitious and clear positions”, in relation to the Western Sahara conflict, from the countries that want to maintain good relations with Rabat. The minister stressed that the head of the Moroccan Government did not expressly mention Spain, while King Mohamed VI did in his speech on August 20, despite the fact that he “speaks very rarely” and does not usually refer to other countries, but on this occasion he was “very clear” in expressing his desire to “open an unprecedented stage” in bilateral relations. Who also expressly mentioned Spain was the spokesman for the Moroccan government, Mustafa Baytas, who said on Thursday that “the ambition [de mejorar las relaciones] it exists, and Spain has also expressed it, but for this ambition to be reinforced, we need a lot of clarity”.
The gestures of rapprochement made this week by Felipe VI ―who on Monday called for a new relationship between Spain and Morocco to “materialize now” and on Wednesday visited that country’s booth at the international tourism fair Fitur― have not made a dent in the Moroccan authorities, who insist on requesting that Spain align itself with their offer of a statute of autonomy for Western Sahara instead of the self-determination referendum. After stressing that the countries that want to cooperate with Rabat must act “loyally and ambitiously”, the Moroccan prime minister seemed to allude to Germany – which has described autonomy as a “good basis” for negotiation – when he said that “there are some countries who understood this and those who still do not understand it will have time to understand it”.
The Spanish Foreign Minister did not want this Friday to endorse Germany’s praise for the Moroccan autonomy plan, alleging that Spain cannot “speak on behalf of the parties”. As he did in Washington, after meeting with the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, Albares reiterated that his goal is “to find a solution to a conflict that has lasted for decades” and that “more than frozen, it is forgotten.” It is, he insisted, a “moral imperative”, since the prolongation of the conflict generates the suffering of thousands of people, alluding to the Saharawi refugees in Algeria. “We want a political solution, mutually acceptable to the parties and, within the UN framework, there are resolutions that offer clues about serious and credible efforts, but it is the parties that have to speak,” he added, without expressly mentioning the offer. autonomic Albares plans to have lunch this Friday with the new United Nations special envoy for the Sahara conflict, Staffan de Mistura, who has just made his first tour of the region (where he has met with the Moroccan, Algerian and Saharawi authorities) in a Air Force aircraft donated by the Spanish Government.
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