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Sahara: The French Note That Sparked Algeria’s Wrath

Chaima Lahsini

Rabat - During a European Parliament debate on the impact of the European Court's decision of the trade cooperation agreement between the EU and Morocco held March 20, things took an unpleasant turn for Algiers.

According to an article published by Le360, the Quai-d’Orsay handed a somewhat “secret” note to French MEPs supporting the position of Morocco as an “essential ally.”

In this note, explains the news website, the French Foreign Ministry warned that the European Court decision "is likely to weaken EU-Moroccan relations, in times where the Kingdom is an essential ally in the fight against terrorism and the control of immigration.

Le360 reported the French Foreign Ministry's plea that “the political challenge in this situation is to be able to develop one of the most remarkable neighborhood partnerships and to continue the negotiation of the comprehensive and in-depth free trade agreement (FTAA) launched in 2013.”

Iin the note, France confirmed its attachment to the partnership between the EU and Morocco: “It is necessary for the Union to provide a strong political response by reaffirming our (France) commitment to the continuity of the partnership with Morocco and the need to place the Sahara within the framework of the political process carried out under the aegis of the United Nations.”

This note given to MEPs infuriated Algiers. The note came after Spain also reiterated that its position on the conflict has not changed.

The Spokesman of the Spanish Foreign Ministry and Cooperation Minister Ana Rodriguez said that Spain "has not changed its position" in relation to the Western Sahara issue, reiterating the “full willingness” of Madrid “to continue all its efforts to contribute to the development of the strategic relationship between Morocco and the European Union.” The Algerian media was quick to react.

L’Expression, an Algerian daily, described France’s stand on the issue of Western Sahara as “hypocrisy.” In an article published last week, the news website quotes the Algerian ambassador in Brussels as saying: “the French government, usually discrete in its support for Morocco (...) has just laid down its cards by displaying its disdain for international legality and biased reading of the decision adopted by the European Court.”

El Watan, another Algerian newspaper, deemed France's stance as “contempt” towards international legality.

According to the daily, the Algerian diplomacy considers that “the French note, beyond its directive nature and of the erroneous elements of position that it articulates, administers the proof of a flagrant prejudice of this government in favor of Morocco, going as far as denaturing the decision of the European Court which has clearly established the distinct and separate character guaranteed to the territory of Western Sahara in accordance with international law.”

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