Morocco is a key partner for Spain in trade, counter-extremism, and fighting irregular migration, among other fields.
Rabat – Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya has said that her country defends the “central role” of the United Nations in addressing the Western Sahara issue.
The Spanish diplomat made her remarks in an interview with Spanish news outlet El Periodico. She compared the UN’s role in Western Sahara to its role with Israel and Palestine and the Libyan conflict, in the sense that the UN leads the conflict resolution process and Spain supports the UN secretary general in those efforts.
Following developments in Guerguerat, Gonzalez Laya said that Spain maintains dialogue with all forces and parties involved in the Western Sahara conflict, including Morocco, Algeria, and Mauritania, as well as the member countries of the UN Security Council.
On November 13, Morocco’s Royal Armed Forces lifted a three-week blockade by Polisario militias in the buffer zone of Guerguerat with a “non-offensive” operation. The separatist group’s illegal act had prevented goods and people from crossing the Moroccan-Mauritanian border.
Countries from all continents have stressed the importance of maintaining the cross-border flow of civil and commercial traffic.
Mauritanian newspaper Al Wiam labeled Morocco’s operation as humanitarian in nature, following a significant rise in prices of certain goods in local markets.
King Mohammed VI made the decision to act in Guerguerat after the UN failed to secure the situation. Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council repeatedly called on Polisario to cease its violations and leave the region, but those calls did not yield results.
Gonzalez Laya urged dialogue in light of the Guerguerat events, stressing the need to appoint a new personal envoy for Western Sahara for the UN secretary general. The position has been vacant for 18 months, she underlined.
Her call for dialogue also adds to Spain’s long-time support for the UN-led process for Western Sahara.
On November 19, the Spanish diplomat stressed that Spain’s position regarding Western Sahara is very clear and remains unchanged, adding that the European country supports the UN’s efforts to “guarantee the maintenance of the ceasefire” and advance “a political negotiation.”
She added that Spain’s position is one of “total support” for the UN-led political process.
In recent years, the international community has increasingly welcomed Morocco’s proposition for a pragmatic, compromise-based solution to the dispute.
On October 30, at the UN Security Council, the US expressed support for the UN-led political process in Western Sahara and urged the conflicting parties to resume negotiations “in good faith.”
Many observers see the Autonomy Plan Morocco presented in 2007 as the most viable route to a lasting solution for the Western Sahara dispute.