Spain ‘won’t tolerate’ using migrants as leverage: PM
Spain “will not tolerate” the use of immigration as a “means of pressure”, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Wednesday in an indirect warning to Morocco.
pain “will not tolerate” the use of immigration as a “means of pressure”, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Wednesday in an indirect warning to Morocco.
It comes after the two nations normalised relations following a bitter diplomatic spat, which erupted in April 2021 and only ended in March after Spain changed its traditional position on disputed Western Sahara.
The falling-out peaked in May 2021 after some 10,000 migrants crossed the Moroccan frontier into Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta as local border forces looked the other way in a move widely seen as a punitive gesture by Rabat.
Although Madrid and Rabat have made their diplomatic peace, Sanchez nonetheless fired a warning shot over Morocco’s bows, saying: “Spain will not tolerate any use of the tragedy of illegal immigration as a means of pressure.”
“The best way is international cooperation,” he said.
Patching up the relationship with Morocco, the departure point for many migrants, has meant a drop in arrivals, notably in Spain’s Atlantic Canary Islands.
The number of migrants who reached the Canary Islands in April was 70 percent lower than in February, government figures show.
The diplomatic crisis erupted when Spain agreed to allow Brahim Ghali, leader of Western Sahara’s independence movement, to receive medical treatment at a Spanish hospital in April 2021.
The move infuriated Morocco.
According to a confidential report by the Spanish intelligence services, which was published in the El Pais newspaper and seen by AFP, Rabat saw the dispute as “a fantastic opportunity to get major concessions” out of Spain.
The report, which was written a day after the massive migrant crossing in Ceuta, also pointed to the significance of King Mohammed VI’s personal involvement in the crisis.
“Both the monarch and his closest entourage viewed Spain’s decision as a direct offence to the kingdom (of Morocco),” it said.
Madrid moved to definitively end the crisis on March 18 when it announced it would recognise Rabat’s autonomy plan for Western Sahara, ending its decades-long stance of neutrality.
everal weeks later, the Moroccan king received Sanchez in Rabat for talks followed by an iftar meal to mark the breaking of the daily fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.