Spain, Morocco hold high-level summit in bid to rekindle relations
Rabat, Feb 2 (EFE).- Spain and Morocco held their first high-level bilateral summit in eight years Thursday as the neighboring nations try to move past a rocky period in relations with handshakes exchanged over the sensitive question of territorial sovereignty.
Pedro Sánchez, Spain’s prime minister, said the rekindling of relations between Madrid and Rabat included an agreement that neither would “turn to unilateral actions” and that dialogue was the answer to all issues, “no matter how complicated.”
“This meeting is important because we are laying the foundation for the kind of relations that we want for Spain and Morocco in the present and the future (…) based on trust, on the fulfillment of agreements, on respect and on permanent dialogue,” Sánchez told a press conference alongside his Moroccan counterpart Aziz Akhannouch.
Earlier in the summit, Sánchez said the two countries had made a commitment to “mutual respect” to avoid politician statements and actions that would “offend the other party” when it comes to questions of sovereignty.
The thorny issue of territorial claims hinges on Morocco’s stance toward the Spanish autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla, which are perched on the North African coast, and Spain’s policy on Western Sahara.
Sánchez altered his stance on Western Sahara in March year when he described Moroccan proposals for the territory to be granted a level of autonomy under its sovereignty as “the most serious” basis to end the conflict.
Spain sparked Rabat’s ire in 2021 when it granted medical treatment to Brahim Ghali, the leader of the Polisario Front, which wants independence for Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony.
In May, a month after Ghali’s admission, some 8,000 migrants breached the border between Morocco and Spain’s Ceuta after Moroccan border guards allegedly dropped their duties.
Sánchez explicitly referred to Spain’s North African territories during his visit, applauding the planned introduction of a customs border in Ceuta and the reopening of the one in Melilla, which has been closed since 2018 following a unilateral decision by Morocco. EFE