The Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Jose Manuel Albares and his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Buritahave agreed this Wednesday that the customs of Ceuta and Melilla open for commercial transit “throughout the month of January”.
“We have agreed to work so that the beginning of the passage of goods in an orderly and gradual manner through the land customs posts takes place throughout the month of January,” Albares pointed out after the meeting with Burita in New York on the margins of the UN General Assembly. This is one more step after the turn taken by Spain in its position on Western Sahara that was contemplated in the declaration of April 7 signed by the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, and King Mohamed VI.
An agreement that, according to the Moroccan Foreign Minister, his country intends to comply with. Burita has assured that both Spain and Morocco will work for “an effective return to normality” in relation to the passage of people and goods through land and sea posts, trusting that the necessary “devices” are in place “from the beginning of the year in the framework of frank cooperation between two partners and friends”.
The issue of customs was one of those that had aroused the most interest, since although in Melilla there was already one, that Morocco unilaterally closed in 2018 before the pandemic, in Ceuta you had to start from scratch.
Sánchez and Mohamed VI, summit in November
The meeting has served both to “design the next steps” in the framework of the new stage in the relationship that inaugurated Sánchez’s visit to Rabat last April and to reaffirm the will that the high level meeting, which has not been held since 2015, takes place as set out in the joint declaration, before the end of the year.
According to Albares, the goal they have set for themselves is that be in november. The summit, which was to be held in December 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic and later due to the crisis in relation to the reception of the leader of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, “will be a new opportunity to take stock and continue advancing together and reaffirming Spanish-Moroccan friendship”.
The minister has assured that all the working groups included in the April declaration have already met, “complying with the planned work schedule”, and has highlighted the “significant advances” that have occurred in these months, such as the resumption of the operation Crossing the Strait or the reestablishment of air, sea and land communications.
Decrease in the arrival of irregular migrants
Albares has highlighted the “excellent cooperation” on immigration as reflected in the data with a 20% drop in irregular arrivals in the last four months compared to the same period in 2021.
This decline, he stressed, is “the result of joint work against criminal networks of human trafficking”, hence both have agreed “to continue strengthening this cooperation, particularly on the Atlantic coast”, which is the one that affects the Canary Islands.