Madrid and Rabat address the migratory phenomenon without Canarian representation

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, who was in Greece yesterday, will visit the Canary Islands this month to explain Sánchez's spin on the Sahara. / EFE

The Spanish-Moroccan working group meets today to agree on cooperation measures in the management of irregular immigration

Loreto Gutierrez

The governments of Spain and Morocco meet today in Rabat to seal a cooperation agreement on the migratory phenomenon without the participation of the Canary Islands in the Spanish delegation. Unlike in the working group to delimit the maritime spaces of the Atlantic façade, in which it is confirmed that there will be a Canarian presence, in the meeting of the Spanish-Moroccan working group on migrations -which had been inactive since September 2019- No representative of the islands will sit down despite being the territory most affected by the arrival of small boats from the Moroccan coast.

The reactivation of this working group, established in the joint declaration that both countries signed on April 9, is the result of the recovery of bilateral relations with Morocco after President Sánchez's change of position in favor of the autonomy plan designed by Rabat for Western Sahara.

The purpose for which both delegations come to the meeting, according to the Spanish Government, is to agree on bilateral collaboration measures regarding the management of migratory flows, border surveillance, the fight against illegal human trafficking and the promotion of secure legal immigration channels. One of the objectives that the Ministry of the Interior has advanced is that the agreement includes the launch of joint maritime and land patrols, such as those already operating in Mauritania and Senegal.

The meeting will be co-chaired by the Secretary of State for Migration, Jesús Javier Perea, and the Director of Migration and Border Surveillance of Morocco, Khalid Zerouali. The Secretary of State for Security, Rafael Pérez, and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Global Affairs, Ángeles Moreno, will also attend on the Spanish side.

The absence of island representation in the Spanish-Moroccan working group on migration has generated a wave of criticism among the political forces of the archipelago, who fear that the Canary Islands will be left out of the decisions that are adopted despite being the autonomy that suffers the most the impact of the migratory flow from Morocco. PP and CC denounce the lack of weight of the Canarian Executive in the face of the "passivity" of the Sánchez Government, and reject the assessment of the Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares, who assured last week in Congress that thanks to the agreement with Morocco, the cooperation in migratory matters has managed to reduce the arrival of irregular immigrants to the Canary Islands by 45%.

For his part, the deputy for NC, Pedro Quevedo, also considers the participation of the Canary Islands in the negotiations on migration "essential" and supports the promotion of joint border control patrols, to prevent the Atlantic from "becoming a authentic cemetery more than it already is». The nationalist parliamentarian recalls that migration policy is part of the European Union agreements with Spain and that Morocco's obligations in this area were already in force previously. "Now it's about reinforcing them," he says.

The Canarian Government downplays the drama of not having been invited to participate in the working group on immigration, and refers to permanent communication with the State to have all the information on the agreements reached.

Before addressing collaboration with Morocco on migration matters, the governments of Madrid and Rabat met yesterday to prepare the details of Operation Crossing the Strait (OPE), suspended since 2020 due to the pandemic and which the subsequent breakdown of bilateral relations had prevented. reactivate. The meeting addressed, among other issues, the operational mechanisms that both countries are going to implement, which will be similar to those established in 2019. The Undersecretary of the Interior, Isabel Goicoechea, put Operation Crossing the Strait as an "excellent international example of good coordination between neighboring countries'.

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