Greek company lobbied for Moroccan occupation

A Greek company lobbied the EU parliament to undermine international law in Western Sahara, a leaked letter documents. 

30 December 2022

The Greek company Archirodon recently lobbied Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to vote against amendments that “challenge the territorial integrity of Morocco”.

The UN and the EU Court of Justice does not view Western Sahara as part of Morocco. The Greek company seems to believe otherwise, a leaked letter shows. Morocco has illegally and brutally occupied Western Sahara since 1975, and the territory is considered by the UN as the last remaining colony on the African continent. 

Download the letter here, which the company had sent to Spanish Members of the European Parliament on 6 September 2022. 

At the time of writing, several Members of the European Parliament have been detained, accused of having taken bribes from Morocco to influence European decision-making processes. One of them is Greek MEP Eva Kaili. Reporters have pointed out that Morocco's motivation would be to find allies to defend its occupation of Western Sahara. 

Archirodon Group NV is a Greek company headquarted in the Netherlands. It was contracted through Phosboucraa - a 100% subsidiary of the Moroccan state-owned phosphate company OCP - to construct a new phosphate-export port in El Aaiún, the capital city of occupied Western Sahara. 

The contract is reportedly worth USD 450 million. On its website and in the letter sent to the Members of the European Parliament, Archirodon consistently refers to the location of the new port as in “Morocco”.

The vote that Archirodon apparently took issue with, related to a Resolution on the “renewed partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood: a new agenda for the Mediterranean”. In early 2021, the EU Commission had adopted the agenda, outlining opportunities for cooperation between the EU and 10 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including Morocco. Through the Resolution, the European Parliament's could share its recommendations on the matter with the EU Commission.

As the text of the Resolution was being prepared by Rapporteur Antonio López‑Istúriz White (Spain, EPP) in the Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET), other MEPs on that Committee offered amendments. 

Two amendments to the text that had been proposed by MEPs Idoia Villanueva Ruiz (Spain, The Left) and Marisa Matias (Portugal, The Left) had been "brought to my attention […] by the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco in Athens, Mr Mohammed Sbihi", Dennis Karapiperis, the CEO of Archirodon wrote.

The two amendments that are referred to deal with two different issues. One is a comment on the EU's migration policy, in which the authors call for “an end to the disgraceful and disastrous agreements of people containment that the EU signed with Turkey and Morocco, which violate human rights and hold the EU hostage of their erratic and antidemocratic policies”. The other is an appeal on the EU to support and respect UN Resolutions and EU Court Rulings on Western Sahara.

Read the full text of the proposed amendments further below.

Karapiperis calls on Parliamentarians to vote against the amendments, while stressing twice he has “no intention whatsoever to enter into any political considerations”. He states that the amendments, if approved, “would violently halt aforesaid progress with even greater adverse impact on the Kingdom's relationship with valued partners operating in the Kingdom”. The letter refers to Archirodon's business in Morocco as “currently constructing the port of Laayoune in the Moroccan Western Sahara”.

“It is not often that we see a private company so openly defending the Moroccan position on occupied Western Sahara, to the extent that it is willing to lobby European Parliamentarians to defend an illegal and brutal occupation”, says Sotiris Maragkos of Western Sahara Resource Watch.

“It does however answer the questions we've put to the company several times, and to which it has never bothered to reply: how does Archirodon assess Morocco's lack of sovereignty and jurisdiction in Western Sahara, and what steps has it taken to obtain the consent of the people of Western Sahara for its activities there. The need for consent from the people of Western Sahara has been stressed as a legal prerequirement by the highest Court of the EU. Archirodon's letter makes it clear that it would prefer EU lawmakers to disregard EU case-law on Western Sahara, as they would otherwise negatively impact on the company's activities on occupied land", Maragkos stated.

WSRW has tried to contact the company, but it has not responded to our letters from 2019 and 2022.

Remarkably, the amendments that Archirodon took objection to had been tabled in May 2022, and neither the Resolution nor the amendments were on AFET's agenda of 12 September, as Archirodon's letter claimed. The Resolution had already been adopted by AFET on 13 July 2022, and the amendments had been rejected as part of the voting process. 

The Resolution was however tabled for a plenary vote on 14 September 2022. The amendments that Archirodon found concerning had been re-tabled by MEP Villanueva Ruiz as amendments 16 and 20. Both were rejected by the plenary.


Amendment 179, proposed by Idoia VILLANUEVA RUIZ, Marisa MATIAS - Motion for a resolution, Paragraph 1 – point g a (new)

"(g a) Ensure that the migration policy tackles the factors that push people to migrate or seek refuge outside of their own countries, such as the increase in the number of conflicts, the lack of resources, the regression in rights and freedom and violence which are the root causes of the movement of many people; end the policy of containing people, that goes against the EU’s values and only serves the interests of the military industry and the mafias who make business out of the lives of civilians; end Frontex and establish legal and safe routes to stop the Mediterranean from being a mass grave; put an end to the disgraceful and disastrous agreements of people containment that the EU signed with Turkey and Morocco, which violate human rights and hold the EU hostage of their erratic and antidemocratic policies; make the new Agreement on Migration and Asylum a real tool to guarantee the right to migrate and protect the human rights of people who are forced to move; activate the Temporary Protection Directive for all conflicts, as it has been done for people fleeing the war in Ukraine;"

Amendment 192, proposed by Idoia VILLANUEVA RUIZ, Marisa MATIAS - Motion for a resolution, Paragraph 1 – point h a (new)

“(h a) Support United Nations resolutions on the Western Sahara, from support for self-determination, to the latest UN resolutions, in order to achieve a just and peaceful solution through referendums and in accordance with the dialogue processes encouraged by the Special Envoy; with regards to trade relations, respect the legality and rulings of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) regarding the plundering of natural resources of the Sahara by Morocco;”


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