Bilateral Relations

Spain and Morocco to resume maritime passenger and goods traffic

by Middle East Monitor

Morocco and Spain yesterday said they would resume sea travel between the two countries.

The agreement came during a meeting between the Moroccan King Mohammed VI and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in the Moroccan capital, Rabat.

“We will fully resume normalcy in passenger and goods traffic on sea and land crossings,” a joint statement said.

Some three million Moroccans cross from Europe to Morocco during the summer, mostly using Spanish ports. However, the coronavirus meant such travel was suspended over the last two years.

The statement added that “common issues” between the two countries would be addressed in  “consultation away from unilateral actions.” The two leaders also agreed to hire a “working group for the demarcation of Atlantic sea borders and airspace management, as well as, reinforcing cooperation on migration, economy, energy, industry and culture.”

During the visit, Sanchez described Morocco’s controversial autonomy plan for the Western Sahara as the “most serious, realistic and credible basis for resolving this conflict.”

Morocco proposes expanded autonomy in the Sahara region, but the Polisario Front calls for a referendum for self-determination – a proposal backed by Algeria, which hosts refugees from the region.

Last year, a diplomatic rift also broke out between Spain and Morocco when Madrid allowed the leader of Western Sahara’s separatist Polisario Front to be treated in Spain for COVID-19.

Shortly after, Moroccan authorities sat by while around 10,000 migrants crossed into Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in northern Africa.

Following the shift in the Spanish government’s position on the Western Sahara, the Moroccan ambassador returned to Madrid on 20 March and a trip by the Spanish PM was arranged.

Middle East Monitor
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