Pedro Sánchez and Nasser Bourita express the need for progress in relations between Spain and Morocco

The President of the Spanish Government and the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs met in Brussels on the occasion of the summit between the European Union and the African Union
Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain

PHOTO/MONCLOA  -   Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain

Contacts and specific diplomatic messages continue to be made between Spain and Morocco with a view to making progress in resolving the diplomatic conflict between the two countries in recent months.

Along these lines, the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, met with the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita, and the two were able to hold a conversation in Brussels on the occasion of the latest summit between the European Union and the African Union. In their dialogue, both leaders agreed on the need to make progress in the strategic relationship between the European country and the Alawi kingdom, as reported by the EFE news agency. 

Pedro Sánchez and Nasser Bourita took part in the summit between the European Union and the African Union along with other leaders and heads of government of different nations. The event was also attended by Brahim Ghali, leader of the Polisario Front, a controversial political figure who was precisely one of the major triggers of the political crisis that has arisen between Spain and Morocco.

El ministro de Relaciones Exteriores de Marruecos, Nasser Bourita
PHOTO/REUTERS - Morocco's Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita

Ghali's presence in Spain last April to be treated for a serious respiratory ailment in a hospital in Logroño provoked a protest from Morocco, which considered that he had not been properly informed by a country considered a neighbour and friend. The Spanish government claimed humanitarian reasons for allowing the Polisario Front leader to enter Spanish territory, but this explanation did not satisfy the Alaouite kingdom, which raised the level of its complaint. 

After this event came other episodes that complicated relations between Morocco and Spain, such as the irregular entry of thousands of Moroccan immigrants through the Ceuta border and the withdrawal of the Moroccan ambassador to Madrid.  

In addition, the North African country has always asked for greater Spanish support for its proposed resolution of the Western Sahara conflict. The North African country proposes a formula of broad autonomy for the Sahrawi territory under Moroccan sovereignty. An approach that has received a great boost at the international level, especially following the recognition by the United States of the sovereignty of the Alawi kingdom over Western Sahara, which came during the last US administration of President Donald Trump; a recognition that came in exchange for Morocco establishing political ties with Israel, thus following in the wake of the Abraham Accords, sponsored by the American giant and from which several Arab countries such as the Emirates and Bahrain established diplomatic relations with the Israeli state. 

Opposing the Moroccan option is the Polisario Front's initiative for a referendum on independence for the Sahrawi people. This approach has less support, including from Algeria, Morocco's great political and regional enemy in North Africa. 

Brahim Ghali, secretario general del Frente Polisario
PHOTO/AP - Brahim Ghali, secretary general of the Frente Polisario

Moreover, Brahim Ghali has also been embroiled in controversy over accusations such as those made by the Sahrawi Association for the Defence of Human Rights about alleged crimes of genocide committed in the refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria. 

In his appearance before the media at a press conference in Brussels, the Spanish Prime Minister summed up the events of the summit and also explained that he spoke with both Nasser Bourita and Brahim Ghali. According to Pedro Sánchez, the Spanish Prime Minister held a conversation with Nasser Bourita in which they agreed on 'the need to make progress in the strategic relationship between Spain and Morocco'.

Indeed, the Moroccan foreign minister and the head of the Polisario Front took part in a dialogue table on peace and security that was co-chaired by Pedro Sánchez, who also took part in another dialogue table on migration that was co-chaired by Nasser Bourita.

Pedro Sánchez's conciliatory message comes on the heels of other messages at the highest level sent by the kings of Spain and Morocco in which they noted the important political and historical ties between the two neighbouring and allied nations. Felipe VI, King of Spain, sent a message of understanding towards the Kingdom on the occasion of the reception of the diplomatic corps at the Royal Palace, referring to Spain and Morocco as two nations that should "walk together". Furthermore, during the FITUR tourism fair held in Madrid, the Spanish monarch wanted to make a gesture of rapprochement with Morocco and visited the North African country's stand at the fair, demonstrating the closeness and good harmony that should exist between the two nations. 

Fotografia de archivo, el rey español Felipe VI (I) y el rey marroquí Mohamed VI conversan durante una reunión en el Palacio Real de Rabat el 14 de julio de 2014
REUTERS/Maghreb Agence Press/Pool - File photo, Spanish King Felipe VI (L) and Moroccan King Mohammed VI talk during a meeting at the Royal Palace in Rabat July 14, 2014.

For his part, the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, spoke a few weeks ago of his desire to 'inaugurate an unprecedented stage' in relations between the two countries, which should be based on 'trust, transparency, mutual consideration and respect for commitments'. 

During the EU-AU summit, Pedro Sánchez stressed that Morocco is a strategic partner for Spain and that the bilateral relationship must be deepened, as well as the relationship with the European Union.