Western Sahara: ECJ decision, "mandatory" for EU, member states, says Belani

Paris (France), May 15, 2017 (SPS) – The decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which excludes Western Sahara territories from the EU-Morocco trade agreements is "mandatory" for both the European Commission and its member states, said Algeria's ambassador to Brussels, Amar Belani, in reaction to reports that the European Commission had requested the Union’s approval for a new negotiating mandate with a view to "adjusting" certain provisions of the agreements.

“Theoretically, this is unlikely to happen as the provisions of the ECJ ruling of 21 December 2016 are clear and stipulate that the products and resources from Western Sahara territory are excluded from the trade agreements between the EU and Morocco," Belani said in an interview with Afrique Asie magazine.

According to Afrique Asie, which quotes the international NGO ‘Western Sahara Resource Watch’, the European Commission has requested the EU member states’ approval for a new negotiating mandate to adjust certain provisions of the trade agreement with Morocco, to include products from Western Sahara, occupied by Morocco since 1975.

In this regard, the Algerian diplomat recalled that "the irreversible decision of European justice is binding for the European Commission and the EU member states. It derives from the distinct status recognized by the international law and the UN Charter, of Western Sahara as a non-self-governing territory."

However, he said that "the statements of certain senior EU officials and the low-key visits by these officials to Rabat suggested that the two parties work together to find technical means for circumventing this decision, which explains the incessant interrogations of the MEPs as to the content of these unclear negotiations.

The Moroccan authorities, which are usually so quick to react to the EU slightest recall of the international law principles, such as the non-autonomous status of Western Sahara territory or its eligibility for self-determination referendum, have been quiet in recent months, as if they received guarantees about the outcome of those negotiations."

For Belani, "it would be regrettable that the EU, in the name of pragmatism, decides to breach the principles and the values of its foundation and its relations with the rest of the world." 

As well, he voiced "confidence" that the law would prevail. "My confidence is backed up by the European companies announcement of  ending the exploitation of Western Sahara resources, like Swiss multinational ‘Glencore PLC’ in offshore oil exploration."

Belani has welcomed "the end of the impunity through which Morocco illegally exported Sahrawi resources.”

A South African judge seized a New Zealand-bound vessel carrying $-5-million 54,000 tonnes of phosphates, from the Boucraa mines in the Sahrawis occupied territories by Morocco.

Regarding Morocco's "dithering" over its agreement for the naming of a UN new personal envoy for Western Sahara,- a prelude to the relaunch of Morocco - Polisario negotiations-, Belani said that "Morocco is entangled in its own contradictions" recalling "the permanent representative’s speech in New York at the end of the Security Council meeting on April 28, who conditioned the relaunch of talks, as proposed by the UN chief and supported by the Security Council, by the departure Polisario Front elements from Guerguerat region."

The Polisario Front has withdrawn its elements as a sign of appeasement and readiness to relaunch talks.

The diplomat regretted that "Morocco was exaggerating by saying that it would approve Horst Köhler as a UN Personal envoy on the only basis of its 2007 autonomy proposal, which is contrary to the Resolution calling for direct negotiations and without pre-conditions."

"There is another schizophrenic attitude of Morocco. The Kingdom wants to accede to the African Union (AU), by obtaining the support of most members, but it doesn’t recognize or abide by the Pan-African Organization dispute settlement mechanisms. Morocco has adhered unreservedly to the AU constituent charter," concluded Belani. (SPS)