The Dutch FM said his country’s statement is in line with the EU's stance, emphasizing the importance of free movement in Guerguerat and respect to the ceasefire in the region.
Rabat – The Netherlands has joined the list of countries supporting the legitimacy of Morocco’s action in Guerguerat, with the European country emphasizing the importance of the free movement of people and goods.
Dutch foreign affairs minister Stef Blok said that Morocco’s move was a legitimate reaction to the blocking of the Guerguerat border crossing by the Polisario Front.
Blok recently made the remarks while responding to a question from an MP.
On October 21, Polisario elements barricaded the Guerguerat crossing point, obstructing crucial civil and commercial traffic between Morocco and Mauritania. Despite repeated warnings from the UN, the group blocked the crossing point for three weeks.
In response, Morocco’s Royal Armed Forces intervened in the region on November 13 to lift the Polisario blockade and establish a security corridor.
Blok said that the Netherland’s position regarding the situation in Guerguerat is fully aligned with earlier statements from Josep Borell, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs.
In November, Borell expressed concerns regarding the situation in Guerguerat.
The EU official made his comments as he discussed the latest Western Sahara developments with Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Borell insisted on the preservation of freedom of movement and cross-border trade in the region.
He said cross-border trade has a significant impact on the “enire Maghreb and Sahel region, an area of strategic importance.”
The EU top official also emphasized the importance of a political solution to end the Wesern Sahara conflict. He noted a negotiated, compromise-based solution would secure regional cooperation between countries in North Africa while fostering regional stability.
EU supports UN-led political process
Borrell also renewed the EU’s support for the UN-led political process, expressing the European body’s hope to see a rapid resumption of discussions under the leadership of the UN.
For the EU top diplomat, the appointment of a new personal envoy for Western Sahara should be the priority amid fears of escalations.
Since the resignation of Horst Hokler in May 2019, the UN has not appointed a personal envoy for Western Sahara.
Kohler was a key figure in what most Sahara watchers have described as a “new momentum” in the UN-led process. His most invaluable contribution to the UN’s political agenda included convening all the parties to the conflict for two roundtable discussions in Geneva.
Citing health issues, however, Kohler resigned in May 2019. His resignation prompted both concerns and regret from the parties to the conflict, but the UN promised—and hoped— to uphold his legacy.
Like Borell, the UN Security Council in October also called for the appointment of a new envoy for Western Sahara. The council also paid tribute to Kohler and emphasized the necessity of filling the vacuum his resignation has created.
For his part, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has vowed on different occasions that the search for a replacement for Kohler is ongoing.
Amid stagnation in the Western Sahara dossier, Polisario has continued to defy UN resolutions, declaring war against Morocco.
The Moroccan government, however, condemned Polisario’s actions and its statements on the collapse of ceasefire. The North African country argued that its actions were only to secure Guerguerat and restore the free movement of goods and people.
Meanwhile, despite an outburst of outrage in pro-Polisario circles, Morocco’s action in Guerguerat has elicited widespread applause from the international community.
In recent weeks, an increasing number of countries, including former Polisario sympathizers, have strongly condemned the separatist group’s maneuvers in the buffer strip and emphasized the importance of security in the region.