The governments of Spain and Morocco have decided to postpone the bilateral summit to February next year that were scheduled to celebrate in Rabat next Thursday, December 17, due to the situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The executives of the two countries have reported this postponement in a joint statement in which they underline that the current epidemiological situation prevents the meeting from being held of High Level in the foreseen date with the guarantees of sanitary security that are considered advisable by both delegations.
Because of this, they explain that it has been agreed to postpone the holding of that meeting in Morocco to February 2021 so that “can develop fluently, including the usual meetings that are typical of a meeting of this magnitude “.
“The High Level Meeting between Spain and Morocco constitutes a transcendental encounter for the development of the deep and dense relations of friendship and cooperation that exist between two strategic partners such as Spain and Morocco “, they point out in that text in which they reaffirm the will to continue strengthening their strategic relationship.
Hours after Trump’s recognition
The postponement of the summit has been known few hours later that the outgoing president of the United States, Donald Trump, announced the recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.
The text of Trump’s proclamation states that “the United States believes that an independent Sahrawi state is not a realistic option to resolve the conflict and that a genuine autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty is the only viable solution. ”
“We urge the parties to start talks without delay, using Morocco’s autonomy plan, as the only framework to negotiate a mutually acceptable solution, “the president urged.” To facilitate progress toward this goal, “he continued,” the United States will encourage economic and social development with Morocco, including the territory of Western Sahara, and with that he will finally open a consulate in the Western Sahara territory, in Dakhla, to promote economic and commercial opportunities in the region. ”
After her, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha González Laya, from Israel, has asked to respect United Nations resolutions on the question of Western Sahara and has assured that Trump’s announcement “has not caught the Spanish government by surprise.”
The High Level Meeting that had been planned for December 17 I was going to have the presence of the members of the two governments that they were going to sign a series of memorandums of understanding.
The controversial position of United We Can
The second vice president was not expected to attend, Pablo Iglesias, although at first from his surroundings he made sure that he would be present. Iglesias has maintained a controversial position on the situation in the Sahara, and recently recalled on social networks that the referendum on self-determination in that territory is still pending.
His coalition, United We Can, in November asked the Executive to work at the United Nations to comply with “Resolution 690 of the Security Council of 1991 that mandates the organization of a referendum with the establishment of a calendar and a fair census, as well as setting the guarantees for its fulfillment. “
He also requested that maintain the ceasefire “broken by Morocco in the passage of the Guerguerat”, where last month the Moroccan Army intervened to evict a group of Sahrawi protesters who had been blocking the 5-kilometer strip between Moroccan customs and the Mauritanian border for three weeks.
Despite these positions, the Minister Spokesperson, María Jesús Montero, assured that Morocco had not transferred the Government “no discomfort or regret” by the position of Iglesias.
The summit was to be held at a time when Morocco keeps the borders with Ceuta and Melilla closed and with a series of issues that affect the bilateral relationship such as maritime borders or the new wave of immigrants illegal in the Canary coasts, most of them coming from Moroccan territory.
It was also pending completion if King Mohamed VI would receive Sánchez on the occasion of the summit, as is often the case in this type of meeting held in the neighboring country.
The High Level Meeting postponed to February will be number XII, and the last one held so far took place in Madrid on June 5, 2015, with Mariano Rajoy as President of the Government. The time elapsed since then is the longest between these summits since they were established in 1993 under the presidency of Felipe González.