The Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, praised this Tuesday in Marrakech (Morocco) the “significant decrease” in the arrival of irregular migrants in Spain after the end of the diplomatic crisis between the two countries. Albares thanked “the extraordinary task” of the bodies and security forces of “both countries” and specified a figure: “If we compare the figures for January and February of this year with those of March and April, arrivals have fallen by 70% irregular migrants to the Canary Islands”.
Albares’ visit to Morocco takes place on the occasion of the meeting of the Global Coalition against Daesh/ISIS, a group made up of more than 80 countries with the aim of defeating the Islamic State (ISIS). Albares met for an hour with his Moroccan counterpart, Naser Burita. At the end of the meeting they appeared before the press without allowing any questions.
One point that remains unresolved between the two countries is the opening of the Ceuta and Melilla border posts, which was scheduled for early May. At the moment, there is no opening date. Albares stated that work is continuing “on the normalization of the passage of people and goods” through the customs of Ceuta and Melilla”, as stated in the joint declaration signed by both countries on April 7.
For his part, Burita avoided mentioning the names of Ceuta and Melilla and also the word “customs” in his appearance. However, he indicated that his country continues to work “according to the clear instructions of His Majesty” to apply all the points of the joint declaration of Spain and Morocco, among them the issues related to “the flexible transit of people and merchandise” between Both countries.
The new stage between the two governments began after the president, Pedro Sánchez, sent a letter to Mohamed VI on March 14, in which he stated that the autonomy proposal is the “most serious, credible and realistic” basis to achieve a solution to the Western Sahara conflict. Never until that day had a Spanish president gone so far in favoring Morocco’s position over that of the Polisario Front and Algeria, which are calling for a referendum on self-determination. The March letter was followed on April 7 by a meeting in Rabat between Pedro Sánchez and Mohamed VI, where a Roadmap to build “a new stage in their bilateral relationship”.
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The meeting between the two ministers this Tuesday takes place in a context that is still thorny for relations between the two countries. On the one hand, there is only one week left until next Tuesday, May 17, the first anniversary of the entry into Ceuta of more than 10,000 irregular migrants with the acquiescence of the Moroccan Government. On that occasion, the Defense Minister, Margarita Robles, accused Morocco of subjecting Spain to “blackmail” by allowing massive entry. And he warned during an interview on RNE: “You don’t play with Spain. With Spain they will not be able (…). “We are not going to accept the slightest blackmail, territorial integrity is not negotiable, nor is it at stake,” the Defense Minister warned. Burita responded to him in public: “Blackmail? And why would we? To what end? We do not proceed with blackmail, we are clear in our positions”.
On that occasion, Burita attributed the massive entry to two reasons: on the one hand, he described “a context of fatigue of the Moroccan police device after the end of Ramadan festivities.” And on the other, he complained about the “total inaction of the Spanish police.”
During those days, the phones of Margarita Robles and the president, Pedro Sánchez, were infected with the Pegasus espionage program. In addition, the phones of the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, and the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha González Laya, were also infected in May 2021 (although these last two cases have not yet been recognized by the Government) in May 2021, at the height of the diplomatic crisis with Rabat, with the irruption of tens of thousands of Moroccans in Ceuta. Ceuta
The signing of the agreement with Morocco, signed on April 7 after a meeting in Rabat between Pedro Sánchez and King Mohamed VI, has made clear everything that Rabat can do to control migratory flows when it intends to do so. Thus, in January 3,194 irregular emigrants arrived in the Canary Islands, in February there were 2,302, and in March, after the agreement, only 375, according to the superior chief of the National Police in the Canary Islands, Rafael Martínez, in statements collected by the agency. Eph.
Morocco began to pressure Spain from December 10, 2020, when the then US president, Donald Trump, decreed the unilateral recognition, outside the UN, of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara. That same day, Rabat canceled the bilateral summit or High Level Meeting (RAN) that was scheduled to be held a week later in Morocco. Moroccan pressure was fully felt on the island of Fuerteventura, where 1,100 people had arrived in 2020 and the figure quadrupled to 4,364 in 2021.