Morocco and Spain restore diplomatic missions

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Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio

«This is a new chapter in our relationship»

Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio

afrol News, 3 February - The Spanish government yesterday sent its ambassador back to Rabat after the embassy had been empty for a half year. Also the Moroccan embassy in Spain will be re-opened today after a vacancy of the ambassador of more than one year. 

-Spain and Morocco are brothers, and a brother often may be the one you have most difficulties in understand, Moroccan Foreign Minister Mohamed Benaissa recently explained the diplomatic row between the two neighbours. 

Months of negotiations at all levels between Spain and Morocco yesterday led to the expected result; the two governments again were to send ambassadors to their respective capitals. The breakthrough came at a meeting in Agadir (Morocco) on Thursday between Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio and Moroccan King Mohammed VI. 

Morocco's ambassador to Madrid, Abdesalam Baraka, already in October 2001 was "called to Rabat for consultations with the Moroccan King", according to the official version. Since then, Morocco has pressured the Spanish government for concessions in a large number of conflict issues to consider sending Mr Baraka back to Madrid. 

Mr Baraka originally was called back home as a consequence of the massive negative reporting about Morocco in the independent Spanish press and the "poor signals demonstrated by the Spanish government to put an end to this," according to the Moroccan government.

Further, the two neighbours are fighting about Spanish demands to curb the large influx of illegal immigrants crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, bad treatment of Moroccan guest workers in Spain and Spanish support to POLISARIO, the liberation movement of Western Sahara. This Spanish ex-colony has been occupied by Morocco since 1975.

Moroccan Foreign Minister Mohamed Benaissa

«Brothers are sometimes difficult to understand»

Moroccan Foreign Minister Mohamed Benaissa

The most touchy issue in the neighbours' relation, though - several unclear territorial questions - developed into a crisis in July last year as Moroccan troops took control of the uninhabited islet Perjil (or Leila, in Moroccan), which the Madrid government lays claims on. Spain answered by withdrawing its Rabat ambassador and retaking the island few hours thereafter. 

Foreign Minister Palacio ever since has been heavily criticised for being unable to solve the diplomatic row with the southern neighbour. As the crisis finally is solved, she now celebrates "a new chapter in the relationship" between the two countries and a "total reestablishment" of diplomatic ties. 

The long-lasting diplomatic crisis also had hindered other levels of the Spanish-Moroccan relationships to thrive. Spanish business associations immediately hailed the decision to restore relations and the leaders of the Spanish autonomous provinces Andalusia and Canary Islands - Morocco's closest neighbours - announced they would soon travel to Rabat. 

The two foreign ministers however have failed to explain the conditions for the solution of the diplomatic crisis. The fact that Spain since 1 January is a member of the UN Security Council - which also is to decide on Western Sahara's future - has given Morocco a greater interest in reviving friendship, observers hold.

Based on Spanish and Moroccan govts, press reports and afrol archives.

© afrol News.

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