After the reception of Morocco’s diplomatic corps in Madrid, King Felipe VI has announced he is working on a new mutual relationship. Therefore, from now on, ties with the African neighbour will be based on ‘stronger and more solid pillars‘.
This solid foundation should ensure both countries can solve their problems jointly in the future. It is the first time the Spanish king has spoken publicly about the diplomatic crisis between Spain and Morocco. This is despite the fact it has been going on for eight months now.
120 guests attended the traditional reception at the Royal Palace. However, due to the corona restrictions, only 40 attended the meeting in the throne room. This included Spanish Prime Minister Sánchez and Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares. The absence of Moroccan ambassador Karima Benyaich was striking. She was recalled to Rabat for consultations in May last year and has not returned to Spain since. Her absence shows relations between the two countries have not yet normalised. However, there have been positive intentions of the Moroccan King Mohamed VI.
Spain wants Morocco to cooperate to prevent another migrant crisis in the future. In May last year, more than 10,000 migrants arrived in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, across the Strait from Gibraltar.
However, Morocco wants Spain to take a step closer in the conflict over Western Sahara. That conflict escalated last April after Brahim Gali, leader of Frente Polisario, received medical care in a Spanish hospital. Frente Polisario is fighting for its own state in Western Sahara. This was claimed by Morocco, and an area that was a colony of Spain until 1975. Morocco found it unacceptable that it had not been informed about Gali’s hospitalisation and that the Spanish authorities also did not want to prosecute him for crimes against humanity.
“Sincere friendship and cooperation”
“Spain will make the necessary efforts to create and consolidate a common area of peace, stability, and prosperity in North Africa,” the Spanish king said. He was referring to the tension between Morocco and Algeria. This country played a crucial role in the diplomatic conflict between Morocco and Spain because it supports the independence movement Polisario. “Our intention is based on sincere and respectful bonds of friendship and cooperation throughout the Euro-Mediterranean region,” the Spanish king said of the redefined bond with the king of Morocco.
Migration must be safe and orderly
On the migration issue, King Felipe VI said: “migration will remain a priority and, given its structural nature, it will be approached from a strategic vision, of solidarity and in cooperation with the other EU Member States. Migration must be safe for migrants and orderly for host Member States.”