A number of influential members of the European Parliament, representing the major political groups, have appealed to the High Representative, Joseph Borell, in support of the Kingdom of Morocco in its efforts to guarantee the free passage of goods and people in the demilitarised zone of Guerguerat, writes Gary Cartwright.
European parliamentarians belonging to the European People’s Party, to the Socialists & Democrats, to Renew Europe, as well as several political personalities have appealed to the Spanish High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borell to relaunch the peace talks on the Sahara issue under the aegis of ONU.
They expressed their concerns at the rise in tensions after the violation of the demilitarised zone by armed Polisario militias. They welcomed the establishment of a security cordon by Morocco allowing the reopening of the Guerguerat border post, the only crossing point between Europe, Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa where more than 4 million tonnes of goods transit. per year – a vital economic lifeline for the region, and a strategic link between Europe, Morocco and SubSaharan Africa.
In recent weeks, a number of incidents have occurred in the buffer zone known as Gueruerat, the demilitarised zone of 3.5 kilometres on the border with Mauritania, monitored by the Nations peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, and established in 1991.
This demilitarised buffer zone has been subject to persistent military intrusions by armed militia in Polisario, paralysing and effectively banning the passages of goods to Mauritania, sub-Saharan Africa.
Despite attempts at conciliation by the UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres and concerns expressed by the international community, the reopening of the border crossing has been repeatedly obstructed by the armed militia of Polisario.
The Kingdom of Morocco has thus assumed its responsibilities, after the violation of this demilitarised territory, by the establishment of a security cordon which has thus allowed the reopening of the border to Mauritania and SubSaharan Africa.
The signatories recalled that:
- It is essential for us to ensure order in that territory and to ensure secure traffic in this strategic area.
- We also reaffirm our commitment to the 1991 ceasefire.
- We reiterate the necessary reactions to any threat to security and to peaceful life for the citizens of the area.
- Finally, it is now appropriate for all stakeholders to resume the path of dialogue, negotiation.
They further stated that: “At the end of 2018, two UN meetings held in Geneva and bringing together all parties to the conflict have allowed progress in a peace perspective.”
“We ask you, Mr. High Representative, to make every effort, in relation to your colleagues representing the 27 Member States of the European Union and in relation to the European Parliament, to ensure that a new round of negotiations is organised by the UN quickly.”
“We call for all stakeholders to the conflict to redouble their efforts in a political process of peace.”
“We call for this reopening of negotiations to resume on the basis of clear parameters involving the real parties to this regional dispute.”
“We therefore call on European diplomacy to help find a realistic and feasible solution within the framework of the sovereignty of everyone.”
List of signatories:
Frédérique Ries MEP, (Renew Europe) European Parliament committee on Foreign Affairs, Belgium.
Brice Hortefeux MEP, (PPE) former minister, member of parliamentary delegation to the Maghreb, France.
Paolo De Castro, MEP (S&D) former minister, European Parliament committee on International Trade, Italy.
Cristian Busoi MEP, (PPE) Chair of the European Parliament committee on Industry, Research and Energy, Romania.
Pierre Karleskind MEP, (Renew Europe) European Parliament committee on fisheries, France.
Ilhan Kyuchyuk MEP, (Renew Europe,) European Parliament committee on Foreign Affairs, Bulgaria.
Marc Tarabella MEP, (S&D) former minister, vice-chair of the delegation for relations with the Arab Peninsula, Belgium.
Dominique Riquet MEP, (Renew Europe) European Parliament committee on Transport & Tourism, France.
Sandro Gozi MEP, (Renew Europe) Delegation for relations with the Mashreq countries, France.
Jo Leinen, (S&D) former chair, European Parliament committee on Constitutional Affairs, Germany.
Ramona Manescu, (PPE,) former member of the European Parliament committee on Foreign Affairs, vice-chair of Delegation for relations with the Mashreq countries, Romania.
Jean Pierre Audy, (PPE) Member of the bureau of the association of former deputies, former head of delegation, France.
Cristian Dan Preda, (PPE,) former member, European Parliament committee on Foreign Affairs, Romania.
Cécile Kyenge, (S&D,) former minister, Italy.
Philippe Boulland, (PPE) former Mayor of Betz, France.
Hugues Bayet, (S&D) Federal deputy, Belgique.
Paul Rubig, (PPE) Former member of the European Parliament committee on International Trade, member of the Economic & Social Committee, Austria.
Mercedes Bresso, (S&D) Former president of the Committee of the Regions, Italy.
Tomas Zdechovsky MEP, (PPE) vice-chair Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, Czechia.
Ilana Cicurel MEP, (Renew Europe) Delegation for relations with the Maghreb countries, France.
The Author, Gary Cartwright, is a freelance journalist based in Brussels and Publisher of EU Today.