The EU, France, Spain and Germany have welcomed the appointment of Germany’s former President Horst Köhler as new Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary General for the Sahara.
“The EU is looking forward to working with Kohler,” said an EU Spokesperson in a statement to Morocco’s news agency.
“The EU continues to encourage all parties to find a solution in line with the UN Security Council resolutions and the UN Charter,” the Spokesperson said.
The French foreign ministry, for its part, commended in a statement the appointment of Kohler and expressed France’s “full support” for him.
In the same vein, France reiterated support for Morocco’s autonomy initiative, saying that it represents a basis for a serious, credible and mutually acceptable solution.
In this regards, France stressed the need for relaunching the political process under the aegis of the UN and in conformity with the Security Council resolution 2351 adopted on April 28, 2017.
Spain has also welcomed the appointment of Kohler in a statement by its foreign affairs ministry, expressing support for the UN Secretary General’s intention to relaunch negotiations between the parties.
Spain said it will back Kohler to reinvigorate efforts aiming at reaching a fair, lasting and mutually acceptable solution.
Likewise, German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel congratulated his countryman, Kohler, for his appointment.
He praised, in a statement, Kohler for his commitment in favor of the African continent when he was German President and also as head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, saying that he is the right man to address the challenges of the Sahara issue.
He added that Kohler will work with the parties to find a fair and politically feasible solution acceptable to all parties.
By opting for Kohler, the new UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres upholds the principle of rotation in Sahara personal envoy between the US and Europe.
Given his background, Köhler is expected to lead UN mediation in the regional dispute over the Sahara with pragmatism, unlike his predecessor Christopher Ross whose stands reflected connivance with Algeria and a willingness to change the parameters of negotiations.
After eight years as UNSG Personal Envoy, Ross left a legacy of failures on the Sahara issue. His term was marred by partial reports, a worn-out negotiation process devoid of prospects for progress and biased and unbalanced guidance to the UN.
Köhler is an economist by profession. Prior to his election as President, he had a distinguished career in politics and the civil service and as a banking executive. He was President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development from 1998 to 2000 and head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from 2000 to 2004. From 2012 to 2013, he served on the UN Secretary General’s High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.