The Spanish FM said that her country's position on Western Sahara does not change depending on which party is leading the government.
Spain’s position is not politics driven, said the official during a joint press conference with her Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita on Friday, January 24 in Rabat.
“Spain’s position on the [Western] Sahara conflict does not change depending on which political party or which coalition is leading the government,” Laya stated.
The official added that her country maintains the constant position based on the centrality and exclusivity of the UN-led political process to find an agreed upon and mutually acceptable solution to end the Western Sahara conflict.
Laya held talks with several senior officials in Morocco today, including Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani.
The Spanish FM’s visit to Morocco is her first official trip outside Europe. She said that the visit reflects the importance of Morocco as an essential partner for Spain.
The two countries described their relations as excellent, emphasizing their willingness to reinforce collaboration.
Spain’s dramatic shift
Spain’s position on the Western Sahara has witnessed a dramatic shift over the past 15 years. Up until the early 2000s, Madrid was among the proponents of the need to enable the Saharawis to exercise their right to self-determination regarding the fate of the territory.
The government of former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar fiercely defended this position and pledged to the Algerian government his commitment to defend the rights of the Saharawis to self-determination when Spain assumed its position as non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2003 and 2004.
Aznar has also sought to use the Western Sahara card to strong-arm Morocco and coerce it into renewing the EU-Morocco fisheries agreement, which expired in 1999. In addition, during Spain’s tenure as a member of the Security Council, José María Aznar was among the proponents of the Baker Plan II, which Morocco had opposed.
However, since 2004 with the unprecedented improvement in the relations between Rabat and Madrid, the latter has progressively opted for a position of positive neutrality, which aligns with Morocco’s principled position that the only way to achieve a solution to the conflict was to hold negotiations between the parties.
Ever since the adoption of Resolution 1754 in April 2007, which has inaugurated the UN-led political process, Spain has endured to maintain this position of positive neutrality. In a new sign of the maturity of the bilateral ties between the two countries, this position was also adopted by the government of Mariano Rajoy between 2011 and 2016.