Germany maintains its position regarding Western Sahara

PUSL.- Statements by the German Federal Foreign Office in the government press conference on May 7th, 2021

Diplomatic differences with Morocco

QUESTION: How does the Foreign Office view the announcement by the Kingdom of Morocco that it will recall its ambassador from Berlin because of the differences over the Western Sahara conflict and the Libya conference?

ADEBAHR (AA): Unfortunately, we were not informed in advance about the recall of the Moroccan ambassador to Rabat by the Moroccan side. We have to say: this is rather unusual and, from our point of view, not a very suitable procedure for settling a diplomatic crisis. At the moment we do not know the reasons that really led to this, and that is why we asked the Moroccan side directly yesterday for an explanation for this approach.

With regard to the communiqué that the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs published, we see that the allegations made in it and also the choice of words are unfounded and we cannot understand these allegations either. This latest development is particularly regrettable in that, in recent weeks, we have tried very hard with the Moroccan side to have a constructive dialogue and to find a solution to the crisis. From our point of view it is of course still in the interests of both countries to continue a broad diplomatic relationship, and we have been in contact with the Moroccan side over the past few weeks. Now we have to see what explanation the Moroccan side has for this measure.

QUESTION: Ms. Adebahr, a question regarding talks that the German government is holding with EU partners and possibly with the US government, because the recognition of Western Sahara as a Moroccan area can obviously be one of the triggers of this resentment. We have also seen other ambassadors withdrawals or expulsions that there is sometimes a European solidarity. Is the Federal Government looking for the support of the other EU partners here?

Are there any talks with the American government to influence the Moroccan government?

ADEBAHR: Talks with the American government to influence the Moroccan government?

ADDITION: Exactly!

ADEBAHR: I can tell you about our position on the Western Sahara issue. From our point of view, it is unchanged and will remain so.

We are of course in contact at the EU level on many foreign policy issues and we keep talking to the US side about various issues. In this respect, this is a measure that we became aware of yesterday from the Moroccan side. We now have to first see what answer we get as to why this step was taken from there. Then we’ll see. In any case, our position – and also the position of many European partners – on the question of the status of Western Sahara remains unchanged.

QUESTION: Joe Biden’s predecessor, Mr Trump, practically recognized the occupation of Morocco and declared it to be the territory of Morocco. Are you actually influencing the Americans to have this recognition, which is contrary to international law, withdrawn?

Will the federal government continue to see it as a Moroccon occupation of Western Sahara?

ADEBAHR: As I said before, our position on this has not changed. After the Trump administration’s decision to change its stance on this, we made it very clear – even here in this place, I think – that we do not understand the step taken by the Trump administration. According to our legal opinion – this continues to be the legal opinion in the United Nations – the status of Western Sahara has not been clarified. The object of the negotiation process, which is under the auspices of the UN, is to finally define it.

Shortly before Christmas, when this question was already virulent, we initiated a referral to the Security Council in order to make our legal opinion – I believe this is general and also known to our American colleagues – clear once again.

ADDITIONAL QUESTION: There is a new administration that is not called “Trump”. You rate this approach of the Trump administration as incomprehensible. Are you influencing the Biden administration to withdraw this unilateral recognition?

ADEBAHR: That has to be decided by the Biden administration. I think the administration knows what our position is. We made this clear in discussions.