Swedish Foreign Minister Visits Rabat to Confirm Relations Normalization

maroc-suedaSwedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström arrived in Rabat on Tuesday for her first official visit to Morocco, as part of the two countries’ efforts to definitively seal the normalization of their bilateral relations.

The Swedish Foreign Minister’s trip thus puts an end to the diplomatic row over the Western Sahara issue that had strained the two countries’ relations for several months last year.

During her stay in the Kingdom, Margot Wallström will hold a series of talks with her Moroccan counterpart, Salaheddine Mezouar, and will meet civil society activists, said the Swedish embassy in Rabat.

Relations between Stockholm and Rabat turned sour in September 2015, after Sweden announced its intention to “recognize” the pseudo-Sahrawi Republic (SADR), proclaimed by the Algeria-backed Polisario Front.

But the Stockholm Government reconsidered its decision to recognize “SADR” in January 2016, preferring to “support the UN-sponsored ongoing negotiations process.”

It was the Foreign Minister Margot Wallström herself who released a statement in mid-January announcing her country’s decision not to recognize the ghostly Sahrawi republic. She explained in her statement the traditional geopolitical and legal criteria necessary for the recognition of a state by Sweden.

The Swedish government has reconsidered its position, taking into account other considerations, such as the fact that “Morocco is an influential country in the Arab world” and Sweden’s desire to “see a resumption of economic and trade relations” between the two countries, she had said in her statement.

Since then, relations between Rabat and Stockholm have been warming up and both countries seem resolved to boost their cooperation on “sound foundations.”

Besides, the European Union that is bound by an association agreement with Morocco, which also has an advanced status within the EU, has never recognized the so-called “SADR” nor has the UN that considers this entity as a liberation movement and not as a sovereign state.

In a bid to definitively settle the Western Sahara issue, Morocco has made many concessions, the latest being to grant a broad autonomy to the southern provinces under its sovereignty.


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