The governments of Spain and Morocco resume their High-Level Meetings on Wednesday, which according to the Friendship Treaty signed between the two countries should be held annually, but which had not been convened since 2015. Relations between these two neighbors with both land and sea borders They have been marked in recent decades by their deep economic, religious and political differences, in addition to a colonial past and pending territorial claims.

For this reason, the Executive of Pedro Sánchez considers that this is a “historic” appointment – attended by 12 ministers from the PSOE coalition quota and none from United We Can – in which he trusts that the foundations can be laid for the “fit definitive” of the cooperation between two “strategic partners” so that they are not “recurrently doomed to periodic crises”. At the end of the bilateral meeting that will be held between today and tomorrow in Rabat, it is expected that some twenty major agreements will be signed that will help to unravel the problems and strengthen their ties in all areas.

The 180-degree turn in the foreign policy of the Spanish Government by supporting the former colony of Western Sahara to become an autonomous region within Morocco – the position championed by the Alaouite kingdom against the call for a self-determination referendum – is what that has caused the purple party to have been erased from this international summit brandishing political discrepancies.

In La Moncloa they downplay such absence, arguing that the head of the Foreign Ministry, José Manuel Albares, could sign any pact that is reached in other areas even if his top managers are not in situ, and they defend that the announced change of strategy in March of last year – until then a solution agreed between the parties was advocated – is “the most serious, realistic and credible basis” to resolve a conflict that dates back to 1975.

Western Sahara was also the trigger in 2021 for the biggest diplomatic crisis in recent years between these two countries after the reception of Brahim Ghali, leader of the Polisario Front -the Saharawi national liberation movement-, to be treated for Covid in a Logroño hospital: Rabat automatically withdrew its ambassador from Madrid and there was a massive entry of immigrants into Ceuta, around 10,000 in just 24 hours, due to the deliberate passivity of the Moroccan police.

Now in the Sánchez Executive, the “solid cooperation” in terms of security with its African neighbor stands out, which in 2022 allowed migration to Spain to be reduced by 31% both through the Atlantic coast and through the Mediterranean route, while they increased to through Turkey and Italy, and they hope to advance in the “full normalization” of the movement of people and goods, in the latter case after the pilot test to open a commercial customs office in Ceuta and the reopening five years after its closure. from Melilla.

Anti-terrorist cooperation with its neighbor to the south is essential for Spain not only because of its geographical proximity, but also because, according to the Elcano Royal Institute, the majority of residents in its territory who come from countries with Muslim populations are of Moroccan origin, as the young man who last week hacked to death a sacristan in Algeciras.

Government sources indicate that, in the last 10 years, as a result of this collaboration against jihadism between both nations, 279 operations have been carried out with 497 detainees.

In the meetings that Sánchez is going to hold these days with his Moroccan counterpart, Aziz Akhannouch, he is also going to plan the shadow of the espionage of the mobile phone of both the Spanish president and his Ministers of the Interior and Defense, Fernando Grande-Marlaska and Margarita Robles, through the Pegasus computer program, which occurred during the height of the diplomatic crisis with Rabat in 2021.

Although the European Commission ended up exonerating the North African country of these facts due to lack of evidence, the indications about the contracting of the services of the Israeli system to spy on the backbone of Spain’s State policies pointed here.

The change in strategy regarding Western Sahara has also had economic consequences, since Algeria -which has broken its diplomatic relations with Morocco- has strengthened its energy cooperation with Italy through a project for the construction of a new gas pipeline between the two countries, with which it wants to compete with Spain for the position of the hydrogen and gas platform in southern Europe.

In La Moncloa they indicate that they are working to seek the best possible cooperation also with the Government of Abdelmadjid Tebboune, although in parallel they will try to strengthen their collaboration with the kingdom of Mohamed VI in this matter, with the focus mainly on renewable energies.

With the same thread of trying to pave the way to promote rapprochement between two nations whose coasts are separated by just 14 kilometers, the PSOE has voted this January against a European Parliament resolution to urge the Moroccan authorities to ” respect freedom of expression and the press, and guarantee those incarcerated a fair trial with due process guarantees, their immediate release, and an end to the harassment of journalists, their lawyers, and their families.”

In Sánchez’s party they came to recognize that, “in politics, sometimes you have to swallow”, but they stressed that the protection of this bilateral relationship is “vital” at this time.”

Along with Sánchez, participating in this High Level Meeting are Nadia Calviño, First Vice President and Minister of Economic Affairs; Teresa Ribera, responsible for Ecological Transition; José Manuel Albares, Foreign Affairs; Pilar Llop, Justice; Fernando Grande-Marlaska, Interior; José Luis Escrivá, Social Security and Migrations; Raquel Sánchez, Transportation; Reyes Maroto, Industry; Luis Planas, Agriculture and Fisheries; Pilar Alegría, Education; Diana Morant, Science; and Miquel Iceta, Culture.

At a time of special tension in the internal seams of the coalition with United We Can on account of the modification of the law of the only is yes, the purple formation will not even be represented by the second vice president and Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, that he had already transferred to La Moncloa his “political decision” not to attend this bilateral meeting.

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