Spain and Morocco begin a relationship without blackmail and with customs in Ceuta and Melilla

Pedro Sánchez landed in Rabat on Thursday for his audience with Mohamed VI, absolutely convinced that the change of position on the Sahara conflict and the support for the Moroccan autonomy plan was going to “trigger very positive things” for Spain. That spirit became flesh just a few hours later with a communication between the two countriesafter the President of the Government debated “in depth” on bilateral relations with the Moroccan king, who is the one who really directs the country’s foreign policy.

Spain and Morocco undertake to inaugurate a “unprecedented” stage in bilateral relations with a lasting and ambitious roadmap, the scope of which will be defined in the convening of a High Level Meeting (HLM) before the end of the year. “It is a very important day,” stressed the Chief Executive. “It is a historic moment, necessary for both countries.”

The agreed text reaffirms Spain’s turn on Western Sahara, which has made it possible to overcome 15 months of diplomatic crisis, and puts white on black the recognition of the Moroccan autonomy plan as the “more serious, credible and realistic basis to resolve the dispute”. But it does not include one of the issues that Spain has fought the most in the negotiations, the express mention of “territorial integrity”, and that Sánchez did include in the letter sent to Mohamed VI on March 14.

It does state that “issues of common interest will be dealt with spirit of trust, through consultationwithout resorting to unilateral acts or faits accomplis”. A mention that for the Government was very important because it commits Rabat not to repeat actions such as the wave of immigrants that, last May, launched against the coast of Ceuta.

Spain and Morocco are also advancing in the reopening of borders, closed since the pandemic, but that the Alaouite kingdom kept closed as a method of pressure, and points to “the full normalization of the movement of people and goods” that “will be restored in an orderly manner, including the appropriate customs control devices and people on land and at sea”.

Furthermore, “the cooperation in the field of migration“, the preparations for Operation Crossing the Strait will begin and a working group will be created on the delimitation of maritime spaces on the Atlantic façade.

According to the Prime Minister it “has closed a time of disagreement”. Sánchez was received in Rabat by Mohamed VI in the middle of Ramadan and participated together with the monarch in the dinner with which Muslims break their fast for the whole day. A gesture that until now the Moroccan king has only had with Juan Carlos I, and later with Felipe VI and Queen Leticia, and that should solemnize the opening of this new bilateral stage.

The Government expected much from this visit. In an informal conversation with the journalists who were traveling with him on the plane, he already said that the meeting would be satisfactory and that “they will be producing news over the next few days”. This is what he also defended in the morning interview he had with the new president of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, in La Moncloa, who made the way he approached this modification of a fundamental issue in foreign policy ugly. But, although that issue was discussed at the meeting, Sánchez assures that Feijóo has not clarified what the PP’s position is on the Sahara and on Morocco.

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The president stressed that the solution will be reached within the UN, with the work being done by the new special envoy Staffan de Mistura, that it will be Morocco and the Polisario Front who decide and that, and this is the most important thing, that several countries, “which are not minor”, such as the US, France and Germany support the path of autonomy.

And although the counterpart has been the Algerian anger, which has withdrawn its ambassador from Madrid, the chief executive does not consider that it represents any danger for the supply of gas and limits a price increase to the negotiation between this country and the Spanish private energy operators. “We are working to get back to normal,” he said. Meanwhile, he stressed, collaboration with Algiers on immigration and security matters continues smoothly.