Annalena Baerbock: The German Foreign Minister supports in Rabat the autonomy plan for Western Sahara proposed by Morocco | International
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The conflict in Western Sahara has aroused the greatest interest in the two-day visit that the German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, has made to Rabat. In a press conference with his Moroccan counterpart, Naser Burita, Baerbock reiterated this Thursday Berlin’s support for the proposal for Moroccan autonomy as “a good basis” to reach an accepted solution in the dispute between Morocco and the Front Polisario, backed by Algeria. For his part, Burita has taken advantage of the occasion to harshly censor statements by Josep Borell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Policy, in which he defended a “consultation” with the Saharawi population.
Baerbock’s visit was the first by a German president to Morocco after the tensions in the relationship between the two countries for much of last year. The crisis ended in December after the new coalition Executive took power in Germany, led by the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, who has chosen to approach the Moroccan theses in the Western Sahara conflict, as Rabat demanded. That German approach was prior to the turn printed by the Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez, to the policy regarding the former Spanish colony. The Spanish government went further than the German in considering the proposal for autonomy defended by Rabat as “the most serious, realistic and credible”.
While Berlin previously advocated a “solution agreed between the parties”, it now considers that the Moroccan autonomy plan represents “a serious and credible effort by Morocco and a good basis for a solution”, a phrase present in the joint statement that ended to Baerbock’s visit this Thursday afternoon. The document also expresses the support of both countries for the Swedish diplomat Steffan de Mistura as the UN’s special envoy for the conflict.
In the joint appearance, the head of diplomacy of the North African country was asked about some statements by the High Representative for Foreign Policy of the EU, Josep Borrell, regarding Western Sahara. In an interview granted to TVE, Borrell referred to the holding of a referendum for the Saharawi people. Burita snapped: “We deplore these statements because they do not reflect the position of Spain or that of the European Union.” “Hopefully it is a Borrell lapse,” he added after assuring that the head of European diplomacy himself had already qualified his own words in a later interview granted to the EFE agency, in which he advocated a solution “agreed between the parties” within the framework of the United Nations.
The root of the controversy is found in a speech last Saturday by the King of Morocco, Mohamed VI, in which he praised the Spanish position as “clear and responsible” on the question of Western Sahara, after the position adopted last March, and urged other EU countries to follow in his footsteps. On TVE, Borrell wanted to deny that there was any discrepancy between the positions of Madrid and Brussels. “The position that the Spanish government has was and is that of the EU. In other words, defending the holding of a consultation so that it is the Saharawi people who decide how they want their future to be”, said Borrell, which was interpreted as support for holding a self-determination referendum in the Sahara, the position defended by the Polisario and which is unacceptable for Rabat.
Baerbock’s visit has highlighted the importance that Berlin attaches to its cooperation with Morocco, especially in the field of clean energy production, and specifically, green hydrogen. Even before his arrival, Baerbock defined Morocco as a strategic pillar in the European energy transition and recalled that the Maghreb country “has been working closely with Germany for the development of renewable energies for more than a decade”. In fact, German analysts attributed to this interest the fact that Baerbock and his party, the Greens, abandoned their traditional sympathies for the Polisario Front to applaud the Moroccan autonomy plan.
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In the joint declaration this Thursday, mention is also made of the need to deepen cooperation in the field of migration, “a common challenge and a shared responsibility”, as well as in the efforts to stabilize the Sahel, ravaged by violence. jihadist
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