Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez described Morocco’s actions during a crisis two weeks ago when thousands of would-be migrants crossed into Spain’s north African enclave of Ceuta as unacceptable and an assault on national borders.
Asked at a news conference on Monday about comments by the Moroccan foreign minister, who linked the migrant crisis to the disputed territory of Western Sahara, Sanchez said: “It is not acceptable for a government to say that we will attack the borders, that we will open up the borders to let in
10,000 migrants in less than 48 hours ... because of foreign policy disagreements.”
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Two weeks ago, thousands of people swam around the border or scaled the fence separating Ceuta from Morocco over two days after Moroccan security forces appeared to loosen border controls.
Most were immediately returned to Morocco but hundreds of unaccompanied minors, who cannot be deported under Spanish law, remain.
The influx was widely seen as retaliation for Spain’s decision to take in Brahim Ghali, head of the Western Sahara Polisario independence group, for medical treatment.
For decades, Polisario has fought for independence for the territory, where Spain was colonial ruler until 1975.
Describing Spain as Morocco’s best ally in the European Union, Sanchez said he wanted to convey a constructive attitude towards Rabat but insisted that border security was paramount.
“Remember that neighborliness ... must be based on respect and confidence,” he said.
Spain says over 6,500 migrants from wave of arrivals in Ceuta sent back to Morocco
Morocco warns Spain ties could worsen over Polisario
Spain deploys army to patrol border with Morocco after thousands of migrants break in
- Morocco warns Spain ties could worsen over Polisario
- Spain says over 6,500 migrants from wave of arrivals in Ceuta sent back to Morocco
- Spain returns 1,500 of 6,000 migrants to Morocco after Ceuta entry
- Spain deploys army to patrol border with Morocco after thousands of migrants break in
- Over 80 migrants swim from Morocco to Spain’s Ceuta enclave
- Morocco cuts contacts with German embassy over stance on Western Sahara dispute