Tuesday, July 16, 2024
 
 

EU says no to Western Sahara separatists; non-recognition policy remains unchanged

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With top officials and heads of state gathering in Brussels for the opening of Thursday’s EU-African Union Summit, the European Union released a key statement in which it officially said that its position remains unchanged regarding the long-standing status of Western Sahara – a vast region in southern Morocco that has been home to a militant separatist movement since the mid-1970s.

Brussels’ statement came after the African Union, which is co-organizing the event with the EU, officially invited the separatists to the summit. The African Union, unlike the EU, fully recognizes the secessionist movement’s self-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, or SADR.

The EU’s Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Peter Stano.

Responding to a question about the prospect of the African Union extending an invitation to the unrecognized separatist leadership, the EU’s Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Peter Stano, said: “The fundamental point to clarify is that for this summit, the European Union is the co-organizer with the African Union,” before adding that the gesture “does not change the position of the European Union”. Stano further reiterated that none of the EU’s 27 members recognizes the SADR or its leadership’s goal for a breakaway state in Western Sahara.

According to Stano, each organization is responsible for inviting its members. The African Union took responsibility for inviting its members, and the EU could not interfere in the AU’s decisions with regard to its own members.

“The EU’s position on Western Sahara is well known and remains unchanged. We reaffirm our support for the political process, within the framework of the United Nations, to reach a political, just, realistic, pragmatic, lasting and mutually acceptable solution to the (Western) Sahara issue; a political solution based on compromise, in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions,” Stano added.

Europe’s position was previously stated in Abidjan, the Ivory Coast’s largest city, in 2017. At the time, Brussels said it does not recognize the legitimacy of the SADR claims to Moroccan regions in Western Sahara.

The SADR was first declared in 1976 by the Polisario Front – a former Marxist rebel group that has been heavily backed – both militarily and politically – by Morocco’s eastern neighbor, Algeria, as well as by Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, North Korea and Cuba’s Communist government.

A map of the Kingdom of Morocco, with Western Sahara’s capital, Laayoune, slightly left of center.
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