See also:
» 03.12.2010 - Little US trust in Moroccan army
» 13.05.2010 - Western Sahara "not part of EFTA-Morocco free trade"
» 11.03.2010 - Niger ex-leader heading for Morocco?
» 11.02.2010 - Morocco-Polisario revive talks
» 29.01.2010 - Ease restrictions on Sahrawi - HRW
» 18.12.2009 - Sahara activist allowed back home
» 11.12.2009 - UN chief intevening in Saharawi activist cause
» 17.11.2009 - Unblock foreign visits to Sahrawi activists, HRW

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Morocco "does not claim Canary Islands"

afrol News, 3 December - In a seldom statement, the Moroccan consul in the Canary Islands has made it clear the Kingdom has no territorial claims over the archipelago located only 100 kilometres off its southern coasts.

Moroccan consul Abderrahman Leibek in a radio interview with 'Radio Club Tenerife' assured his country "has never had, does not have, nor will have claims" on the Spanish archipelago.

While Rabat never has presented concrete claims, but a low-scale conflict over the maritime border between Morocco and the Canary Islands, covering potential oil fields, has seen arguments indicating Spain's possession of the archipelago was not historically full-proof. Also, Rabat correctly argues the islands are located on the Moroccan continental shelf, holding this should give Morocco rights to the lion's share of the disputed ocean stretch.

In Spain, it has also been noted that the Canary Islands mostly figure on official Moroccan maps, indicating a Moroccan claim. Consul Leibek told Canarian radio listeners this should not be falsely interpreted as a claim.

He explained that the Canarian Archipelago appeared on maps of Morocco "due to proximity." Equally, Southern Spain was pictured on most Moroccan maps, "just like that the map of Spain almost always includes Portugal," he added.

The Tenerife island radio interviewed the Moroccan consul after a mayor on the island had caused a minor diplomatic affair by making racist statements against the "Moors", as North Africans are still widely called in Spain.

Mayor Isaac Valencia of the minor municipality of La Orotava, speaking about the still high number of illegal immigrants reaching the archipelago in small boats, warned about "an invasion by Moors." Mr Valencia reminded people of the good old days when "every house had a window overlooking the ocean to see who was coming," and blamed central authorities in Madrid for not protecting the archipelago well enough against the "Moors".

The statements by Mr Valencia were especially embarrassing for local authorities because the mayor is one of the founders of the nationalist party Canarian Coalition (CC), which rules the autonomous province in coalition with the conservatives. The CC has yet to excuse the statements made by Mr Valencia.

The nationalist party's coalition partner, however, headed by the Vice-President of the Canary Island government, José Manuel Soria, made a statement saying government did not share Mr Valencia's viewpoints, adding immigrants had plaid "an important part" in the archipelago's economic development.

Consul Leibek in the radio interview said that, with Mr Soria's statements, the case had been "settled", as for him.

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