The Spanish minister said that Morocco has confirmed the next stages of the process will be taken following negotiations with Spain.
Rabat – Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya affirmed that Morocco will not move to the next phase of delimiting maritime waters without negotiations with Spain.
The FM spoke about Morocco’s decision to redefine its maritime borders in an interview with El Pais published on Sunday.
Commenting on Morocco’s decision, the Spanish official said Morocco’s move to delimit its maritime limits off the coast of Western Sahara was not a “unilateral move.”
All countries have the right to delimit their maritime waters, including Spain, the FM went on.
“That is what Morocco is doing. The next stage is to fix the borders. I asked for, and received a commitment from the Moroccan minister [of foreign affairs Nasser Bourita] that Morocco will not do it unilaterally,” she said.
Both houses of the Moroccan parliament, the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors, adopted two bills allowing Morocco to delimit its maritime borders in the waters between Morocco’s Western Sahara and Spain’s Canary Islands.
Gonzalez Laya warned that Spain would not have “hesitated” to turn to international “authorities” hadMorocco taken a unilateral step.
Morocco’s adoption of the two bills is in accordance with the UN Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), established March 2, 1973, that outlines the limits of territorial waters.
In line with the UNCLOS, Morocco’s new bills are amendments to existing laws, allowing Morocco to create an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) 200 nautical miles off the coast of Western Sahara.
The UNCLOS stipulates that a coastal state’s territorial sea is limited to 12 nautical miles, a contiguous zone encompasses between 12 and 24 nautical miles, an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) amasses between 12 and 200 nautical miles, and a Continental Shelf may not exceed 350 nautical miles.
Despite reports in Spanish media of “unilateral moves” and “threats” regarding Morocco’s move, the Moroccan FM met with his Spanish counterpart in January and reassured Spain that, though the decision does constitute a sovereign action, the North African country is ready to negotiate to avoid overlaps with Spain.
The minister also described Morocco’s relations with Spain as exemplary, stressing that the two countries enjoy better relations than those Morocco shares with other neighboring countries in the Maghreb region, such as Mauritania and Algeria.