Sahara: France reiterates support for Autonomy Plan as serious and credible

Sahara: France reiterates support for Autonomy Plan as serious and credible

France reiterated, Monday, its support to the Morocco-proposed Autonomy Plan as a “serious and credible basis for discussions” for the resolution of the dispute over the Sahara.

France’s position on the Sahara is “constant, in favor of a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. In this perspective, the Moroccan autonomy plan is a serious and credible basis for discussion,” said the spokeswoman for the French foreign Ministry.

This statement comes after Spain officially announced it recognizes the Moroccan autonomy initiative as the most serious, realistic and credible basis for resolving the dispute over the Sahara, heralding a new dawn in Morocco-Spain relations.

“France is committed to good relations between its European partners and its neighbors on the southern shore of the Mediterranean. It is through dialogue that the common challenges can be overcome,” said the spokeswoman for the French Foreign Ministry.

In this vein, French Senator Christian Cambon said Madrid’s new stance is a big step in Europe-Morocco Cooperation and gives back to the Moroccan-Spanish relationship all its importance.

President of the France-Morocco friendship group in the Senate said Spain’s new stance recognizing the Moroccan autonomy initiative in the Sahara as “the most serious, realistic and credible basis” for the resolution of this dispute is a “big step” that allows to clear up any “clouds” between the two countries, which “penalized cooperation between Europe and Morocco.”

“In these times of crisis and global difficulties, we need a lot of solidarity with Morocco, which is a friendly country,” he said, underlining that each country that recognizes the merits of the autonomy plan “is making a positive contribution to peace.”

Recalling the position of France “which has long supported” the autonomy plan for a fair and negotiated solution under the aegis of the United Nations, Cambon said that the broad autonomy offered by Morocco “is likely to bring a solution to a very painful conflict.”

The Eugene Delacroix Circle, an association of French elected officials for friendship between peoples, also welcomed the “historic” change in Spain’s position on the Sahara.

“The Kingdom of Spain joins the international community and regards the autonomy initiative presented in 2007 by Morocco as the most serious, realistic and credible basis for resolving the conflict over the Moroccan Sahara,” the group said in a statement.

The two nations are “closely linked” by several centuries of common history, by geography and by a common destiny, said the association which welcomed the end of the crisis between the two Kingdoms and calls for the resumption and reinforcement of exchanges and of the natural friendship between the two peoples.”

In the same context, the European commission welcomed the Spanish support for Morocco’s autonomy plan, saying the new development “opens positive prospects for ties between Madrid and Rabat.”

“The European Union welcomes any positive development…between its member states and Morocco in their bilateral relations, which can only be beneficial for the implementation of the Euro-Moroccan partnership,” said Nabila Massrali, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

The EU supports the efforts of the UN envoy as well as the political process with the aim of reaching a political, fair, realistic, feasible, lasting and mutually acceptable solution, Massrali told the press.

This came after Spanish PM openly expressed support for Morocco’s territorial integrity saying in a letter to King Mohammed VI that the autonomy plan is “the most serious, credible and realistic basis” for a political solution to the Sahara issue.

Morocco’s foreign ministry welcomed the change in position which augurs well for bilateral ties based on transparency and the absence of unilateral actions.

The Moroccan ambassador to Spain finally returned to her job in Madrid after Spain vowed to respect Morocco’s territorial integrity.

“It is a pleasure to go back to work in Madrid and reinforce ties between Spain and Morocco,” Moroccan ambassador Karima Benyaich told EFE news agency.

The row between Morocco and Spain blew up after the latter admitted last April the Polisario separatist leader Brahim Ghali under a false identity to help him evade justice in Spain where he was facing a lawsuit on charges of rape and other serious rights violations.

Spain’s support for the autonomy plan came in a series of such moves by global powers such as the US which recognized Morocco’s sovereignty over the Sahara in Dec 2020. Berlin an influential country in the EU has also supported the autonomy proposal.

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