Spain’s PM Sánchez defends shift in Western Sahara policy

Madrid, Jun 8 (EFE).- Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sánchez on Wednesday defended his government’s policy shift on the sovereignty of Western Sahara, insisting it had improved relations with Morocco.

The head of the Socialist Party-led minority government told parliament that a recent pact between Madrid and Rabat to settle a diplomatic dispute was important and required compromise.

Bilateral relations hit a low in May 2021 when thousands of migrants stormed Spain’s North African territories of Ceuta and Melilla from Morocco shortly after the Spanish government confirmed the provision of medical care to Brahim Gali, the head of the Polisario Front, a Western Saharan, or Sahrawi, independence force.

“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.”

The topic of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony claimed in its entirety by Morocco but disputed by the Polisario Front from its base in the refugee camps of southern Algeria, is crucial for Rabat when it comes to normalizing ties with Madrid.

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,” Sánchez 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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