Morocco tightens the rope again. On this occasion it was the Prime Minister of the Alawite kingdom, Saadeddine El Othmani, who, in an interview with an Egyptian media, affirmed that the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla “are Moroccan like the Sahara.” This new pulse suggests that relations between the Spanish Government and Morocco are not going through their best moment and represents a new blow to Spain’s bilateral policy with this country, traditionally one of the priority partners in matters as important as the fight against illegal immigration or against jihadist terrorism.
The Othmani, as reported by the Europa Press agency, recognized, in an interview that has been replicated by the Moroccan media, that “the day will come” in which the Alawite kingdom and Spain will have to “reopen the matter of Ceuta and Melilla, Moroccan territories like the Sahara ».
The Government of Spain, through its Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Cristina Gallach, urgently summoned the Moroccan Ambassador to Spain, Karima Benyaich. Gallach told the diplomat that “Spain expects all its partners to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country” and asked her for explanations about the statements of El Othmani, according to Foreign Affairs in a statement.
The moment in which these statements arrive is not accidental: it takes place shortly after Morocco canceled the bilateral summit that it was going to hold with a Spanish delegation led by the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez. In the first place, the Government attributed the cancellation to the complicated health situation, although later Carmen Calvo, first vice president, changed the version and stated that it was “scheduling problems” that led to the suspension of this High Level Meeting between the two states. This sit-in, together with the United States’ support for the Moroccan position in the Sahara conflict, once again calls into question Spain’s role in foreign policy.
The migratory wound is also still open. Although Morocco has controlled the migratory flow through its northern border in the Strait and Alboran, the boats loaded with Maghrebis have “drowned” the Canary archipelago in recent months, especially since summer.
To the tranquility of La Moncloa, the Moroccan Prime Minister pointed out that for now it is not necessary to address the question of Ceuta and Melilla: “First we must definitively fix the Sahara conflict, which is our absolute priority,” reports the newspaper “L’Opinion” .
The response of the PP
The words of the Moroccan prime minister were answered by the opposition in Spain, specifically from the Popular Party. Pablo Casado demanded that the Prime Minister to respond immediately to the chief executive of the neighboring country and make it clear that Ceuta and Melilla are two Spanish cities with no room for discussion.
“Sánchez must respond immediately to the Moroccan Prime Minister’s statements,” the PP president warned in a message on Twitter. Casado remarked that “the Spanish sovereignty of Ceuta and Melilla, and the national territorial integrity is inalienable.”
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