Algeria halts Spain friendship treaty over Western Sahara policy shift

(Update 1: Adds reaction from Algeria)

Algiers/Madrid, Jun 8 (EFE).- Algeria on Wednesday announced the immediate suspension of its 2002 friendship treaty with Spain over Madrid’s policy shift on the sovereignty of Western Sahara as part of a deal to normalize diplomatic ties with Morocco.

A statement from the Algerian presidency said Spain had embarked on a campaign to justify its new policy on Western Sahara, a territory claimed by Morocco but disputed by the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi independence movement backed by Algiers.

Spain had abandoned its legal, moral and political obligation to its former colony, the statement added.

Algeria’s decision to suspend the treaty of friendship, good neighborliness and cooperation comes in response to a recent pact agreed between Madrid and Rabat, which Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez defended in parliament on Wednesday.

The head of the Socialist Party-led minority government said the deal to settle a diplomatic dispute was important and required compromise.

Spain-Morocco relations hit a low in May 2021 when thousands of migrants stormed Spain’s North African territories of Ceuta and Melilla from Morocco.

The crisis occurred shortly after the Spanish government granted medical care to Polisario Front leader Brahim Gali, whose movement is based in refugee camps in southern Algeria.

“We do not accept talk of Ceuta and Melilla being occupied cities because they are Spanish territory, European, internationally recognized,” the prime minister said.

“But we also have to understand that Morocco warrants the same consideration when we speak about the issues that concern them.”

Sánchez repeated his support for a Moroccan proposal to resolve the conflict by offering Western Sahara a degree of autonomy.

This position is not shared by the junior partners in his coalition government, Unidas Podemos.

“Spain has not disregarded the cause of the Sahrawi people,” he said.

“On the contrary, we have placed the debate where we believe it should be, in the active search for a political and mutually acceptable solution within the framework of the United Nations.”EFE


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