More than a year after the serious events of May 2021 encouraged by Morocco –supposedly in retaliation for the hospitalization in Spain of the leader of the Polisario Front, sick with COVID–, which the entrance of more than 10,000 people in Ceuta in just two days and unleashed an unprecedented crisis between Spain and the North African country, both parties have called this Tuesday for a top level meeting to try to put an end to the disagreement definitively. Behind the meeting held in Rabat in April in which the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, and the Moroccan King, Mohamed VI, participated, and which served to initiate the thaw in relations between the two countries, now the appointment is in Madrid. The objective is to close all diplomatic details regarding the reopening of the borders between the two territories, which began on May 17.
The meeting also takes place just one day before Sánchez appears in the Congress of Deputies to give explanations about the twist on Spain's position against Morocco that facilitated rapprochement with the neighboring country. The posture was rejected in Congress by the minority partner of the GovernmentUnited We Can, for the parliamentary allies and for the entire opposition, assuming the acceptance of the Moroccan theses on Western Sahara as a territory of the Alawite kingdom, and leaving aside the position of the UN in favor of a self-determination referendum for the Saharawi people.
Sánchez will appear in the Lower House at his own request to report on the extraordinary European Council on May 30 and 31, 2022. In addition, the President of the Government will use his unlimited turn to "explain the new partnership for the 21st century established during his visit to Rabat and the consequences that this has caused in the relationship with Algeria". This petition from the PP refers to the meeting held by Sánchez and Mohamed VI on April 7in which, among other measures, it was agreed to progressively return to full normality in the movement of goods and merchandise at the Ceuta and Melilla border crossings, including the appropriate customs and people control devices at ground level and maritime.
It is precisely this last point, that of customs, that will be the focus of this Tuesday's meeting, as indicated by the Executive. Last week, Morocco had cast doubt on the forthcoming opening of commercial customs in Ceuta and Melilla, which was one of the issues that the Government gave the most importance to. The general director of Moroccan Customs, Nabyl Lakhdar, stated in an interview with the weekly TelQuel that the geographical conditions of the two steps do not allow these customs to be opened, but on Friday Lakhdar reneged and clarified to EFE that it would be possible to establish customs infrastructure. after making the necessary changes.
The customs issue with Ceuta and Melilla, pointed out the Moroccan official, "is a political issue addressed by the Moroccan and Spanish Ministries of the Interior" following the road map recently established between the two countries. "The Customs Administration will execute all the decisions made by the political authorities," he added. "When the two ministries agree on aspects related to Ceuta and Melilla, we apply them," he told EFE. From the Spanish Government they explain, for their part, that this Tuesday's meeting will serve to "establish the modality and calendar for the completion of the process of normalizing the movement of people and goods through the two land posts that began on May 17, 2022 ”, inform sources from the Interior.
The new position regarding Morocco and the Sahara adopted by the Spanish Government – at least by the socialist wing – is not shared by the minority partner of the Executive, United We Can, but neither by the usual parliamentary allies and not even by the right-wing PP , Vox and Citizens. In recent weeks, everyone has harshly attacked Sánchez and his Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, for the turnaround undertaken two months ago and they intend that in the appearance this Wednesday, Sánchez's loneliness will be staged again in the hemicycle on this issue.
At a press conference this Monday, the co-spokesman for Podemos, Pablo Fernández, advocated waiting to see the results of the meeting between Spain and Morocco on Tuesday before making an assessment in this regard. But he did want to make it clear that in the confederal space they maintain an "absolutely clear and diaphanous" position that goes through the defense of the right of self-determination of the Saharawi population, in the terms of the UN resolutions. "Anything that is something different from that is an error. There we have an important disagreement, a big discrepancy with the PSOE, which is the one that has changed its position," Fernandez emphasized.
For the minority partner of the Government, everything that is not defending the Saharawi referendum is a "mistake" and considers that the PSOE, if it is "coherent", should "support that claim". "Everything that has to do with the Saharawi people we maintain the same line: solidarity with the Saharawi people, compliance with United Nations resolutions and the demand for compliance with the self-determination referendum," added, for her part, the spokeswoman for IU, Sira Rego.
The meeting between Spain and Morocco also comes after the scandal of espionage through the Pegasus system to, among others, Pedro Sánchez, the Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles, and the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska. The investigations into these wiretaps determined that the interventions of the mobile phones of the President of the Government and his ministers occurred in the midst of the crisis with Morocco, in May 2021. This Monday, The country published that the National Intelligence Center (CNI) alerted the Executive that the massive entry of that time sought, on the part of the Moroccan Government, to pressure Spain to change its position on the Sahara as it finally happened.
Asked about it, the Minister of the Presidency, Félix Bolaños, did not want to assess the information on Monday. "All the information from the CNI is secret and I cannot comment on it," he said, according to the Europa Press agency. Bolaños defended the "new stage" that has been opened with Morocco and that will suppose, according to him, a "collaboration in commercial and cultural matters, among other things", in addition to opening the border crossings. "It is important that we value it," he concluded.