European Union Bulletin has spoken with the Member of the European Parliament Tomáš Zdechovský about how the European Union could help solve the ongoing crisis between Spain and Morocco.
As one of the MEPs who last Thursday (10 June) refused to join a resolution against Morocco during an European Parliament session in Strasbourg, the Czech politician said in a statement that he “found it difficult to support this resolution and I voted against it. … This resolution is counterproductive for the relationship between Morocco and Spain.”
MEP Tomáš Zdechovský, who is a member of the Group of the European People’s Party, has also previously been a crisis manager, media analyst, poet and author.
EUBulletin: How would you evaluate the current state and prospects for the EU’s strategic partnership with Morocco, particularly in light of the ongoing crisis in the relations between Spain and Morocco?
MEP Zdechovský: The cooperation to date with Morocco has been very successful and I believe it will remain that way in the long term. Morocco is one of the EU’s most stable and powerful partners, so I recommend to solve the current problems by dialogue between the Spanish government and Morocco and not involve other states in their conflict.
EUBulletin: What are currently the prospects for deepening the EU-Morocco cooperation, especially when it comes to the fight against illegal migration and in the area of counterterrorism?
MEP Zdechovský: Morocco has strong ties with the European continent. Morocco could become a gateway for illegal migration if we do not try to settle relations and strengthen mutual trust. It is a conflict between Spain and Morocco, but this difficult situation can have negative consequences also for other EU countries. I strongly believe that the current diplomatic crisis will be resolved soon and our excellent relations will continue.
EUBulletin: You have indicated in a recent tweet that the spat between Spain and Morocco is essentially harming the region’s stability and cooperation. What steps should both sides take to ease the crisis and how could the EU facilitate this process?
MEP Zdechovský: Both sides will have to start negotiations. They have to agree on how this situation can be fixed. The EU should mediate this spat and help to calm emotions on both sides of the conflict. There are always solutions, but both sides must want to solve the conflict. I feel that Morocco wants to calm down the situation as soon as possible and, in my opinion, Spain is also on the move.
EUBulletin: The 27 EU member states appear to be somewhat divided when it comes to their views on the Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara. After the United States, in January, officially recognized Morocco’s claims over the Western Sahara, can we expect a gradual shift within the EU towards the U.S. position?
MEP Zdechovský: In my opinion, the member states should open this issue soon. I am still wondering why we are not yet talking about it. I think it was the right move from the United States and we should follow it as the EU, but it is clear that we must have a debate on this first. It is a sensitive issue that is important for the stability of both – the Maghreb region and also the EU. Long-term ignorance of this thorny subject will certainly not help to resolve it.