Press release: Western Sahara still ignored from EU-Morocco talks

The talks of granting a so-called Advanced Status to Morocco are getting ever more concrete. But to this day, the EU and Morocco have still avoided stating whether or not occupied Western Sahara should be involved in the cooperation. “There is an elephant walking around in the negotiations room, which no one wants to see or mention”, said WSRW in press release today. Read press release and letter to the EU here.

Published 03 November 08

Press release
Solidarity organisation demands occupied country out of EU cooperation

4th November 2008

The talks of granting a so-called Advanced Status to Morocco, are getting ever more concrete. To this day, the EU and Morocco have still avoided stating whether or not occupied Western Sahara should be involved in the cooperation. Through the cooperation, the European Union could therefore be about to breach international law. 

The solidarity organisation Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) demands that a precondition for granting the occupying power of Morocco such privileged status, is that the occupied parts of Western Sahara are specifically excluded from the cooperation. 

“We expect that the agreement coming out of the Advanced Status talks, will clearly specify that the cooperation shall not extend further south than to Morocco’s internationally recognised southern border, namely 27o40’N”, stated a letter that was today sent to EU Commissioner for External Affairs, Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

No such precision has yet been made. The EU-Morocco Association Council met for the seventh time on 13th of October 2008, in Luxembourg, but without mention of the territorial applicability of the agreement. See meeting minutes here. 

Morocco is still occupying a large part of Western Sahara, in violation of over 100 UN resolutions which state that the people of Western Sahara has a right to self-determination. The UN treats Western Sahara as an issue of decolonisation, and has labelled it both occupied and annexed. The International Court of Justice has rejected Morocco’s unfounded claims to the territory.

“It is clear that under customary international law, the EU and its member states have a duty of non-recognition of the illegal Moroccan annexation of Western Sahara. All it takes for the EU is to clearly specify which territory they are going to cooperate with”, said Sara Eyckmans of Western Sahara Resource Watch.

If the EU was to make such a precision, it would follow for instance the USA, who in their free trade cooperation with Morocco, have specifically excluded Western Sahara. 

“If the EU-Moroccan cooperation does not clearly exclude the territory of Western Sahara, it will only lead to a strengthening of Morocco’s illegal and unfounded claims to their neighbouring country. The EU should not support a brutal occupation like this. There is an elephant walking around in the negotiations room, which no one wants to see or mention”, said Eyckmans. 

Morocco commits widespread human rights violations against Sahrawis who strive for self-determination in Western Sahara. More than 500 Sahrawis have disappeared since Morocco invaded the territory in 1975. 

WSRW is a global network with member organisations in more than 30 countries worldwide, working to protect the Sahrawi people’s natural resources against Moroccan and foreign business interests in occupied Western Sahara. 

For further comments or clarifications, please contact:
Sara Eyckmans, WSRW Belgium, (+32) (0)475-458695, sara_eyckmans@yahoo.fr 
John Gurr, coordinator, Western Sahara Campaign UK, tel (+44) (0) 845-458-9577, wsc.cymru@tiscali.co.uk
Jan Strömdahl, chairman, Swedish Western Sahara Association, (+46) 704-3888-41, jan.stromdahl@politik.sll.se 

Read more about Western Sahara Resource Watch on www.wsrw.org.

 

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