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SAHARAWI REPUBLIC ATTEND AU-EU MINISTERIAL SUMMIT, STRESS LINK BETWEEN TRADE AND SECURITY

[BRUSSELS, 22 JANUARY]

SIDATI MOHAMED Minister, Representative of Polisario to Europe states:

On behalf of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, and Frente Polisario, we are pleased to gather in Brussels today with our European and African counterparts as part of the EU-AU Ministerial Summit. The meeting is a vital opportunity for the African Union and European Union to build upon our deepening relationship; and explore areas for greater cooperation going forward. We believe strengthening ties with our European partners is vital for investment in peace, security, and prosperity, and welcome this summit as part of our mutual efforts in furthering economic integration in support of peace, stability, and prosperity.

As a full member of the African Union, we look forward to positive and fruitful engagements with our European partners. We have made clear our disappointment with EU trade measures taken with respect to Western Sahara; which we strongly believe present major obstacles to further integration and cooperation based on mutual respect and our shared principles in upholding international law, democratic values, human rights, and the rule of law.

The proposed EU-Morocco trade deal interferes directly with the UN Peace Process, and threatens to jeopardise an already fragile peace between Western Sahara and Morocco. The Charter of the African Union is clear in establishing the sovereign equality and respect of borders of its Members; and we urge the European Union to respect this with regards to all Member States. However it is clear that the recent EU-Morocco trade agreement, including Western Sahara in violation of EU and international law, also demonstrates a lack of regard for the principles of the African Union, and sends a deeply concerning signal with respect to upholding the rule of law and security in the Maghreb.

We are further disappointed that the European Union continues to interfere in the affairs of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic in a way that jeopardises peace, justice, and human rights. The UN Peace Process on Western Sahara is a rare window of opportunity that the EU must support unconditionally and avoid any measures that threaten to undermine this process towards fulfilling the right to self-determination of the Sahrawi people. It is therefore unacceptable that the EU would stand alone on the international stage in recognising Morocco’s claimed sovereignty over Western Sahara – going against both international and EU law. We have made clear that we are not opposed to strong bilateral relations between the EU and Morocco; so long as it is rooted in international law and does not violate the rights of the Sahrawi people.

The EU-Morocco agricultural deal is illegal; and undermines both the UN Peace Process and the standing of a member of the African Union. We therefore look forward to discussing with our European partners the need to strengthen support for international law, and the necessary steps towards a constructive approach in supporting the UN Peace Process which helps to promote security, stability, and justice in the Maghreb region as a whole.
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