Morocco has made it clear that it has sovereign rights to redefine its maritime border in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Following the vote, Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya took to Twitter. The minister underlined that Spain and Morocco will reach an agreement on the demarcation of their maritime borders through dialogue.
“Spain and Morocco agree that the delimitation of our maritime spaces is still pending and may not be done unilaterally,” the Spanish FM said.
Gonzalez Laya added that the two countries would come to a final decision on the limits of their respective maritime zones through dialogue, “in accordance with current international legislation.”
Morocco’s government believes that international law provides the country with legitimate rights to adopt the bills. Prior to her latest tweet, the Spanish FM said that Madrid and Rabat have discussed the matter in recent weeks, emphasizing that there “will be no policy of fait accompli or unilateral actions. This was reiterated today by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Morocco Nasser Bourita at the House of Representatives.”
Speaking at the Parliament in Rabat, Morocco’s FM made it clear that the North African country is open to dialogue if Spain is willing to enter into negotiations.
The minister said Morocco will continue to defend and protect its rights but it will always remain open to reach a fair compromise based on equity.
He emphasized, however, that the decision is in line with the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The convention outlines the limits of territorial waters.
Morocco signed the convention in 1982 and ratified it in 2007. Bourita argued that the case is related to Morocco’s sovereign rights.
“The delimitation of national maritime spaces is a domestic affair and an act of sovereignty which finds its foundation in international law,” Bourita stated.
Spain submitted its application to the UN Commission on the Law of the Sea in 2014, but failed to name Morocco as a third party, overlooking Morocco’s de facto sovereignty over the Western Sahara coastline facing Spain’s Canary Islands in a move calculated to bypass negotiations.
As part of the EU, Spain traditionally holds a position of tacit support for Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, which is reflected in the EU-Morocco fisheries agreements that include the regions facing the Canary Islands.
The calculated move from Rabat has pushed Spain into a corner, and could force Madrid to enter into a dialogue with Morocco on an equal footing, implicitly acknowledging Morocco’s sovereign rights over its southern regions.