Frente POLISARIO condemns EU decision to extend the EU-Morocco trade deal to the occupied territories of Western Sahara

Strasbourg, January 17,  2019 (SPS) -  The Frente Polisario strongly condemns the illegal and shortsighted decision by the EU Parliament to extend the EU-Morocco trade deal to the occupied territories of Western Sahara. The vote taken today was upheld in an environment devoid of scrutiny and transparency. Its result represents a direct blow not only to human rights defenders and international law, but to the very UN-led peace process that the EU says it supports.  We urge Member States of the European Union to reconsider today’s nonbinding vote and change course immediately.

After 40 long years, a credible UN-led peace process is underway. Thanks to the stewardship of the Personal Envoy for the Secretary-General and the leadership of the United States, we have at last a real possibility to tackle the difficult challenge of forging a sustainable peace. But today’s decision undermines such progress and prejudges the outcome of political negotiations. It is absurd that the EU regularly asks us to avoid steps that would undermine or prejudge the peace process - and yet the EU willingly takes such a clearly destabilising step itself against the rulings of its own court.

Rather than undermine the political process – as today’s decision does – we urge the European Union to develop a consistent policy to peace in our region. The EU should explicitly delay implementation of this trade deal and instead articulate a plan for using trade as an incentive for a negotiated peace agreement

In the meantime, the Frente Polisario, acting on behalf of the people of Western Sahara, will pursue every legal avenue to reverse today’s illegal decision. We will launch an immediate legal challenge to this agreement.  We have a high degree of confidence, backed up by legal advice, that the European decision will not survive legal scrutiny. While we regret that we have to go to such lengths, because we firmly believe that our energies are better invested in the UN-led process, we will not hesitate to uphold international law and the rights of the Sahrawi people

The EU must now contemplate its posture. Peace requires everyone to play a constructive role. The UN is exercising its responsibility.  And the Security Council has made its position clear, as has the United States and African Union. As a party to the peace process, the Frente Polisario is giving negotiation a real chance. Regrettably, the EU, with this decision, is exerting a negative influence on the collective international effort, and reinforcing an unsustainable status quo.  We demand that the EU rethink this position, and use trade as a positive incentive for peace.SPS