Spain is beginning to realize that the new US President, Joe Biden, will maintain his predecessor’s decision to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, El Mundo has reported.
“This is the impression that the [Spanish] government has, as confirmed by different consulted sources, which justifies that the American decision is not Trump’s but the US’s,” the Spanish newspaper wrote. “They do not see Biden ruining a compromise reached by his country.”
According to the newspaper, there are several hints to Spain’s assumption that Biden will maintain the US support for Morocco’s territorial integrity in the statements of Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Arancha Gonzalez Laya.
In a recent appearance before the Spanish Congress of Deputies, Laya reaffirmed that Spain’s position on Western Sahara “has not changed” and is still based on the “centrality” of the UN-led process to reach a “lasting and mutually-acceptable political solution” to the territorial dispute.
The Spanish FM also spoke positively about bilateral relations between Morocco and Spain, describing the North African country as “a good partner and friend.”
Laya explained that the Spanish diplomacy’s efforts vis-a-vis Western Sahara are focused on urging UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to appoint a new envoy to the region “as soon as possible.”
“This position has been vacant for 19 months and we are focused on reaching a consensus on the person that will be the UN Special Envoy for Western Sahara,” the minister said.
El Mundo reported that Laya’s statements have angered Spanish deputies who support the separatist Polisario Front, accusing her ministry of “abandoning” Sahrawis.
The top Spanish diplomat, however, did not succumb to the pressure. She stressed that the rights of the “Sahrawi population” are supported through international cooperation. “We are a responsible country that meets its commitments,” she said.
While navigating anti-Moroccan parliamentary questions, Laya maintained that Spain supports the UN-moderated political process in Western Sahara.
The Morocco-friendly tone of the Spanish FM was further confirmed on February 23 when she held a virtual meeting with her Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita.
During the meeting, Laya praised the “excellent relations” linking her country to Morocco. With Bourita, she discussed bilateral cooperation in economic, cultural, and educational fields.