Questioned about Western Sahara, a Moroccan representative has spoken out on the fisheries deal, Geneva talks, and allegations of political repression.
Rabat – Mohamed Cheikh Biadillah, co-president of the EU-Morocco Friendship Group, has reiterated Morocco’s position that it cannot sign an agreement with the EU if it excludes the Sahara provinces.
When asked about the EU Court of Justice’s ruling that the EU-Morocco agreement does not apply to the waters off Western Sahara, Biadillah said: “For us, they are Moroccan waters.”
He then repeated Morocco’s position on the fisheries deal, saying Morocco “cannot sign an agreement that excludes the Sahrawi provinces. It is impossible.”
Biadillah also discussed Morocco’s expectations for the UN talks on Western Sahara, which will be held December 5-6.
The president of the group said that Morocco is putting “a lot of hope in this December meeting, mainly because Algeria will participate as an actor.”
He added that Morocco is going to the meeting with “transparency, respect and responsibility.” He said Algeria needs to come to meeting with “the same political will, in order to find a solution that preserves the interests of the whole world, and for us the Moroccan territorial integrity with its Sahara, obviously.”
The parties and neighboring countries to the conflict were invited to the talk by UNSG Personal Envoy for Western Sahara Horst Kohler. The UN Security Council supported Kohler’s decision to convene Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, and Polisario around a table for discussion that might lead to future negotiations on the conflict.
Through Resolution 2440, the Security Council also called on all four parties to “work constructively” with Kohler to ensure the success of the UN-led political process.
When the interviewer asked about Morocco’s position on a referendum in Western Sahara, Biadillah said, “They always ask me about the referendum, but the [Sahrawi] electorate has not been able to be defined by the United Nations.”
He also recalled the position of former Dutch UNSG Personal Envoy for Western Sahara Peter Van Walsum, who told the Security Council in 2008 that “independence” for Western Sahara was “unrealistic.”
Biadillah said that the Sahrawi population in the Tindouf camps in Algeria “has never been registered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and they do not have a refugee card.” He added that the Sahrawis in the Tindouf camps “have never been asked if they wanted to return.”
Biadillah said that Sahrawi people in the Tindouf represent only 20 percent of the population, while those who are in Morocco’s southern provinces represent 80 percent.
He also denied repression of Sahrawis in southern provinces, saying allegations are false and people who “visited the region know it very well.”