Spain demands clarification of Moroccan PM’s statement about sovereignty

THE Spanish Government has called an urgent meeting with the Moroccan ambassador to Spain, Karima Benyaich, to ask her for clarification over the statements of the Moroccan Prime Minister, Saadeddine El Othmani, in which he claimed that Ceuta and Melilla are “Moroccan like the Sahara.”

Ceuta and Melilla are both in North Africa, but officially belong to Spain.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Cristina Gallach, informed the Ambassador that the government “expects all its partners to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Spain.

This comes despite both governments insisting that relations are excellent.

The Prime Minister of Morocco made the comment on December 10 after Donald Trump recognised the sovereignty of Morocco over the Western Sahara. To be specific, El Othmani  said in an interview with an Egyptian channel, regarding Ceuta and Melilla, that “the status quo has lasted for five or six centuries” and added that “the day will come when we will reopen the matter of Ceuta and Melilla, Moroccan territories like the Sahara.” However, he indicated that now was not the time because the priority is to find a definitive solution to the Sahara conflict.

Following Trump’s announcement that the US recognised the Western Sahara as Moroccan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, EU and Cooperation, Arancha Gonzalez Laya , maintained that this “does not depend on the will or unilateral action of a country, no matter how big this country is”, but rather “the centre of gravity is in the UN.”

The UN considers the former Spanish colony a non-autonomous territory.

Since 1991, a military mission from the UN, MINURSO, has supervised the ceasefire between Morocco and the Polisario Front.

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Jennifer Leighfield

Jennifer Leighfield, born in Salisbury, UK; resident in Malaga, Spain since 1989. Degree in Translation and Interpreting in Spanish, French and English from Malaga University (2005), specialising in Crime, Forensic Medicine and Genetics. Published translations include three books by Richard Handscombe. Worked with Euro Weekly News since November 2006. Well-travelled throughout Spain and the rest of the world, fan of Harry Potter and most things ‘geek’.