Communiqué of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Ministry concerning third round of negotiations
The Moroccan delegation, which will take part in the third round of negotiations of the UN-led talks, expressed its determination to engage in "good faith" in "substantial" and "serious" negotiations, said a communiqué of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Ministry.
A senior Moroccan delegation will participate, on January 7-9 in Manhasset (New York outskirts), in the third round of these negotiations aiming to reach a final and mutually acceptable political solution to the Sahara dispute, opposing Morocco to the Algerian-backed separatist movement the Polisario.
The delegation will include Interior Minister Chakib Benmoussa, Foreign Affairs Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri, Chairman of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs (CORCAS) Khalihenna Ould Errachid, chief of Morocco's intelligence (DGED) Yassine Mansouri, super governor of the province of Oued Dahab, Mohamed Saleh Tamek, and CORCAS Secretary General Maoulainine Khallihenna.
This important participation reflects Morocco's will to implement the U.N. Security council resolutions of 1754 and 1783, which have marked a radical rupture with the anterior plans and proposals, and lead the way to end this regional dispute.
The resolutions also highlighted the significance of the Kingdom's proposal to grant the Sahara a substantial autonomy that was welcomed as "serious and credible" by the Security Council and other capitals around the world.
The first and second rounds of negotiations were held respectively on June 18-19 and August 10-11 in Manhasset at the invitation of the UN Secretary General, which called on the parties to “enter into negotiations without preconditions and in good faith,” with a view to “achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution.”
Besides Morocco and Polisario, the negotiations were attended by delegations from Morocco’s neighbors, Algeria and Mauritania in the presence of the U.N. facilitator.
Talks between the two parties have already been held in the past, but failed in reaching a solution to the dispute over the Sahara, a former colony that was ceded by Spain to the North African country in 1975 under the Madrid Accords. However, a year later, the Polisario, backed by Morocco’s eastern neighbor Algeria, started claiming sovereignty over the territory and even waged a war on Morocco which lasted until 1991 when the U.N brokered a ceasefire.
Working session at New York before 3rd round
Morocco reiterates its readiness to move forward in the implementation of UN resolutions
The Moroccan delegation attending the third round of the negotiation process on the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara, held a working meeting Sunday night in New York with other members accompanying the delegation, during which it reaffirmed Morocco's desire to move forward in the implementation of UN resolutions aimed at achieving a political final solution to this dispute.
The delegation, made of Mr. Chakib Benmoussa, Interior minister, Mr. Taieb Fassi Fihri, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mr. Khalihenna Ould Errachid, Chairman of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs (CORCAS), and Mohamed Yassine Mansouri, Director General of Research and Documentation (DGED), underlined the importance of the Moroccan autonomy initiative.
The delegation, which also includes advisors Mr. Mohamed Saleh Tamek, Wali of the region of Oued Eddahab-Lagouira and Maouelainin Maouelainin Ben Khalihenna, general secretary of CORCAS, has also said that, like the two previous meetings held in June and August this year, Morocco will hold the 3rd round (7-9 January), with the same determination to hold, with good faith, substantial and serious negotiations, with a view to effective implementation of Security Council resolutions, stressing that only autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty will allow reach a final solution to this problem and hence ensure stability in the region.
After this working meeting, the other members accompanying the delegation, have, in statements to the national press, evoked efforts that Morocco never ceased to deploy to end this conflict. Efforts which, according to Mr. Brahim Hakim, the former separatist leader, are illustrated by the Moroccan autonomy initiative, aiming to achieve the aspirations of the Sahara peoples.
He stressed that the separatist leaders would be responsible for any possible failure of negotiations involving their lack of sincerity in negotiations as evidenced by their threat to go back to weapons few days before the 3rd round. "How can we say to the world that we seek peace and at the same time giving belligerent statements?" He queried.
Likewise, Mr. Dlimi Ghilani, Morocco's ambassador to Bulgaria, underlined that Morocco’s King, government and people, have opted for negotiations to break the deadlock that has lasted too long and which "could, unfortunately, lead to a very dangerous situation, namely terrorism, which threatens the whole region".
For his part, Mr. Tamek Saleh, said that Morocco tackles this 3rd round with its optimism, its conviction and its project, which is the best way to solve the problems facing the region.
Mr. Tamek noted that the developments occurred in the recent months confirm the correctness of the Moroccan position, citing in this regard the resolutions adopted at the Security Council and the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly.
Morocco, he said, "remains calm, confident, optimistic and responsible, and we believe that the losers are those in front of us namely Algeria and its protected entity because the Kingdom has nothing to hide, and it is indeed our initiative which caused energy that we live nowadays in the region".
For his part, Mr. Mohamed Maalainine, Ambassador of Morocco to Jordan said that allegiance has always existed between the peoples of the Sahara and the Moroccan sovereign.
After advancing that Morocco has been an independent and sovereign country for many centuries and that allegiance has always linked the peoples to Morocco’ s sovereigns, he said that it is this link that preserved Morocco's territorial unity.
As for "Polisario" threat to return to war, Mr. Maalainine said that this was not the first time that the movement "was seen as a terrorist organization."
Mr. Brahim Houssein Moussa, Morocco's ambassador to Venezuela, said that Morocco has always acted in good faith. "The Sahara is Moroccan since the dawn of time," he insisted, criticizing "Polisario" bad faith which still refuses the identification of the populations sequestered in Tindouf, and condemning violations of human rights in those camps.
These people, he added, cannot speak, move freely, or visit their families, denouncing the embezzlement of humanitarian aid to these people.
"Morocco shows good faith and autonomy initiative is a historic opportunity that the separatists must seize and I, personally, as a Moroccan Sahrawi, I urge Polisario leaders to allow people return to motherland in dignity, "he concluded.
Press Declaration on the First day of negotiations
Khalihenna: Algeria and Polisario should show good faith and seriousness for the third round to be successful
The Moroccan delegation which is representing the kingdom of Morocco in the third round of negotiations of the UN led talks is in no doubt determined to engage in serious negotiations, with the aim to achieving a final settlement to the Sahara conflict.
It is worth mentioning that talks between the two parties have already taken place, during the first and second rounds of negotiations, respectively on june18-19, and august 10-11 in Manhasset , taking into account the UN security council resolutions 1754 and 1783 which called on the parties to “enter into negotiations without preconditions, and in good faith» with the aim to “achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution”
The resolutions also highlighted the significance of the Moroccan proposal to grant the Sahara substantial autonomy that was welcomed as “serious and credible” by the UN Security Council and the main world and influential capitals
Although the Polisario front and its main ally Algeria have not shown i, in practical terms any good faith , in order to achieve a political and lasting settlement to he conflict, the Moroccan delegation is willing to create an objective atmosphere in the on going negotiations
In this context the chairman of the Royal advisory council for Saharan affairs ( CORCAS) Mr Khalihana ould Errachid called both Algeria and polisario to show good faith and seriousness required for the success of the third round of negotiations on the Sahara; he added that “ the Moroccan delegation takes part in the third round of negotiations driven by the same spirit if enthusiasm, good faith and seriousness, as during the two previous rounds” in the same context he deplored the fact that Algeria has not engaged in guaranteeing success to these negotiations to reach a settlement of this dispute, noting that the polisario, for its part , pursues its provocations through ever- contradictory stances.
The Moroccan delegation is well aware of the statement of some leaders of the Polisario front just hours before the third round of negotiations, these statements in question are far away from the spirit and the purpose of the negotiations, which aims to establish peace, tranquillity, and impose a political solution to the over three decade conflict over the future of theSahara.region
In this respect the Moroccan foreign affairs minister made it clear that “Morocco, regrettably notes the clear divergence, on the one hand, between the momentum that it has created, which is future –oriented towards regional appeasement and Maghreban integration and, on the other hand, the status quo advocated by Algeria and the polisario, which is synonymous with decline in a sahel-Saharan zone exposed to diverse and real menaces”
The four delegations of Morocco , Polisario ,Algeria, and Mauritania arrived, started preliminary consultations with the UN envoy, and facilitator Peter Van Walsum, as part of the third round of negotiations on the Sahara ,, the talks are due to start today with speeches of the head of delegations, followed by debates, and will go on through Wednesday .
As to the general secretary of the UN Ban Ki –Moon he called on the parties taking part of the UN-brokered talks on the Sahara issue to make “ full use of this week’s round of talks”
the Polisario front ha not made any efforts to reach a peaceful agreement, while the Moroccans are determined to make sure that the peace process carries on, by discussing the project of large autonomy proposed ,and seen by the international community as the only opportunity to put an end to the 32-year-old conflict.
Morocco expects other parties to show the same spirit of good faith and seriousness to resolve Western Sahara conflict
Works of the third round of negotiations on the Sahara continued in Manhasset on Wednesday, according to the UN Security Council Resolutions No. 1754 and 1783. Morocco expressed its readiness before and during the start of the round to move forward in finding a political and final solution to this issue. Meanwhile, Polisario put pressure by announcing threats return to arms, in stark contrast with the position of negotiating in good faith it declares, with Algeria not engaged in its obligations as a party to the conflict to make efforts to bring positions closer together and push them towards the logical way-out of the crisis by adopting the solution of self-government in the Sahara.
In this context, statements appealing not to abandon seriousness and good to the success of the negotiations continued. Mr Khalihenna Ould Errachid, President of the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs said on Monday that Algeria and the Polisario Front are invited to show good faith and seriousness required for the success of the third round of negotiations on the Sahara ", noting that Algeria did not make
efforts in the direction of " putting pressure on Polisario in order to stop impossible claims."
Mr. Taieb Fassi Fihri, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation said that "Morocco has been able thanks to its efforts recognized as seriousness and credible, to set up a new negotiation process to reach a political solution wanted by the international community. It remains, as in the past, very careful in order to maintain its own higher interests and determined to resist any attempt to breach or attempt to touch the unity of Sahara, and more precisely eastern security zone. "
For his part, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, called during a press conference at United Nations Headquarters on Monday, the parties concerned to go into " more in-depth and focused phase of talks," and expressed hope that substantial progress will be made during the third round of negotiations, preferring not to comment on the Polisario threats and its " at the same time peremptory assertive" statements.
Declaration to the press at the end of third round Manhasset negotiations
Khalihenna: Polisario has the choice between autonomy or to stay in Tindouf Camps
The Chairman of the Royal Council for Sahara Affairs (CORCAS), Khalihenna Ould Errachid said, here Wednesday, that the Algerian-backed Polisario separatists have only two choices: to accept Morocco's autonomy proposal for the Sahara, or to stay in the Tindouf camps, southwestern Algeria.
Speaking to the press at the end of the two-day 3rd round of negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario on the future of the Sahara (Morocco's Southern Provinces), held in Manhasset, New York outskirts, Mr. Ould Errachid ruled out any possibility of holding a self-determination referendum in the Sahara.
"We have asked the Polisario the following objective question: Do you want a solution, or do you want to stay in Tindouf? and the Polisario failed to answer," CORCAS head said.
Mr. Ould Errachid described as "frank" the talks and discussions between the parties taking part in these UN-sponsored negotiations to find a solution to the 32-year-old dispute over the Moroccan Sahara. Yet, he stressed the obsolete nature of the referendum called for by the separatists, who still don’t have the freedom to discuss deeply, and to make the required decisions.
He underlined that Morocco’s autonomy plan – the country is proposing to grant substantial autonomy to the Sahara region – is also addressed to the Polisario leaders, who can undertake responsibilities part of this autonomy, under Moroccan sovereignty.
The Polisario leaders, the official added, can be involved in the management, provided they succeed in establishing the necessary mechanisms to implement the autonomy plan in accordance with the international legality.
This is the right to self-determination, as seen by Morocco, which conforms with the latest resolution of the UN General Assembly, he underlined.
Mr. Ould Errachid called upon Algeria, which provides full support to the Polisario separatists, to play a more positive role, and to grant some freedom of action to the Polisario, which should be able to negotiate freely the autonomy proposal, because “the Polisario is settled on the Algerian soil, and Algeria provides it with funds, and as such, Algeria has always the last say.”
The CORCAS chairman voiced hope the Algeria-backed Polisario would be able to help push forward the situation towards a solution, and that Algeria would adopt a more coherent position that takes into account what is agreed upon at the international level, and what it does on the field.
He also deplored the Polisario threat to return to arms, adding that: “we have warned the Polisario that Morocco will not accept, under whatever conditions, the threats against its security and territorial integrity.”
“The Polisario knows today that Morocco will not accept this, and I think (…) that it has somewhat retracted, and it has understood the message.”
As to the forthcoming tour of the UN Secretary General’s Personal Envoy for the Sahara, Peter Van Walsum, in the region, the chairman of the CORCAS said this visit would enable Mr. Walsum to take note of the positions of the other parties, particularly Algeria and the Polisario, whom we hope would change their attitude and engage in serious negotiations with a view to settling this conflict.
Morocco rejects 'any attempt to impose situations as facts on the ground,' Interior minister
Morocco reaffirmed, here Wednesday, its full commitment to the negotiations process - under the scope of which falls its Autonomy Initiative - to settle the Sahara dispute under its sovereignty, stressed Moroccan Interior Minister, Chakib Benmoussa, at the end of the third round of negotiations on the Sahara, held in Manhasset, New York.
"Morocco stood up, throughout history, against any attempts threatening its territorial integrity and it will not accept, now or any time in the future, the policy of the fait accompli," Mr. Chakib Benmoussa said in a speech, on behalf of the Moroccan delegation, at the opening of the third round of UN-led talks on the Sahara, which kicked off on Tuesday in Manhasset, outskirts of New York, under the aegis of the United Nations.
The minister insisted that Morocco will spare no effort to "preserve its national unity and territorial integrity in order to spare the entire region the perils of balkanization."
Here follows the full text of the speech:
Excellency, the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Kingdom of Morocco is taking part in this third round, with the same confidence, good faith and resolve to engage in serious negotiations that marked its participation in the two previous Manhasset rounds. Thus reiterates its principled commitment to the UN resolutions, and is responding to the kind invitation of the UN Secretary-General, His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, and to the good offices of his Personal Envoy, Peter van Walsum.
Subscribing to the new United Nations approach, Morocco took the main, courageous and decisive initiative by submitting an innovative and promising autonomy proposal, within the framework of the Kingdom’s inalienable national unity and territorial integrity.
Having taken that initiative, the Kingdom of Morocco expects our brothers here present and the really concerned neighboring countries whose cooperation the Security Council has sought - to create conditions conducive to the success of negotiations on this Initiative.
Morocco and the world community are expecting the other parties as well to take move forward the initiative, trigger a new dynamic action and boost the momentum created by Morocco. They should make constructive proposals as part of an earnest negotiating process designed to find a lasting, realistic and mutually acceptable political solution to the Sahara question.
Au tonomy is the most efficient and suitable means whereby all Sahrawi tribes and populations may, wherever they are, exercise once again their self-determination. Indeed, it became clear to the Security Council and the international community that the previously unrealistic solutions were fruitless and inapplicable, and that they took neither the specificities of the region nor those of the dispute into account.
The Security Council was right when it unanimously commended, in Resolution 1754, the recent developments and the efforts exerted by Morocco to achieve a just, lasting and acceptable political solution, and when it singled out the Moroccan efforts as being serious and credible.
Notwithstanding the present state of the negotiations, we are called upon, together and not just Morocco, to make this Initiative the starting point and final objective of the negotiation process launched and sponsored by the United Nations. It is thanks to the Moroccan initiative that we are meeting here today on the third round of negotiation.
In the subsequent Resolution 1783, the Security Council reasserted this approach and called on the parties to bear in mind the efforts undertaken since 2006, in a clear reference to different stages the Moroccan initiative, from elaboration until its presentation to the international community.
Further more, the General Assembly has adopted a new approach clarifying its doctrine concerning the principle of self-determination as regards this conflict in utter agreement with the Security Council.
In this respect, Morocco has gone forth consolidating its democratic process by holding general elections, which were unanimously described by international observers as fair and credible. It also set up local and regional mechanisms to promote human rights and expand the scope of liberties, under the rule of law.
Concurrently, Morocco has pursued its effective, tangible development efforts in the provinces of Saguia El Hamra and Oued Dhahab, turning the Sahara into a vast construction and development site, as part of an integrated development plan designed to foster life with dignity for all the inhabitants of the Sahara.
Morocco will not be perturbed by the deceptive agitations and intrigues which only compound the sufferings of the populations concerned, and which are inconsistent with the spirit of negotiations. Instead, it will forge ahead with the national solidarity launched more than thirty years ago to develop all parts of its Saharan Provinces. It will not give up an inch of
its Sahara, and it will see to it that the Kingdom’s real borders are respected.
Mr. Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Morocco is participating in good faith in this third negotiation round. It is extending its hand, showing it wants dialogue and understanding to prevail. The aim is to achieve reconciliation and to put an end to the suffering of our brothers in the Tindouf camps, south of Algeria, through committed dialogue, in a constructive and civilized way.
It is, indeed, regrettable that the other party is still clinging to an extreme, invariable position and to ineffective and fruitless approaches which the international community deemed inapplicable. The other party is seeking, adamantly but vainly, to breathe new life into former proposals for no other purpose than to undermine the efforts made to achieve a more
realistic political solution. Worse still, it is brandishing the threat of war, issuing cheap, unacceptable threats to resort to armed struggle.
In any case, Morocco is in its territory, believes in the legitimacy of its rights and is committed to international legality and to a political settlement based on autonomy. My country deplores the other party’s rigid attitude.
In this respect Morocco calls on the international community to put an end to this situation which is not in keeping with the principle of negotiation, and which goes against the United Nations’ desire to create conditions that shore up the confidence needed for any serious negotiations.
We have the right - and in fact the international community has the duty - to wonder about the real intentions of parties which threaten to go to war.
These threats can only encourage risky plans to turn our sensitive region into a rear base for terrorism, illegal migration and trafficking in human beings and weapons.
This situation would have dreadful consequences for each of the five Maghreb countries. What our region needs, in fact, is sustainable development and concerted action to guarantee security and stability, promote democracy, and protect not only our peoples against terrorism, but also the Sahel and Sahara region, North Africa and Western Europe.
Morocco therefore calls on those who have been holding our brothers in Tindouf area under yoke for decades to listen to reason and to seize the historical moment. The initial goal of the populations concerned to run their regional affairs freely, as part of an extensive democratic system, is guaranteed under the autonomy project within a new democratic united, prosperous and strong Morocco.
We also invite them to draw lessons from the growing support expressed by their fellow Moroccan Sahrawi brothers, wherever they are, for the autonomy Initiative, which guarantees full-fledged citizenship, dignity and family reunification.
We would like to take this opportunity to say how much we value this clear-sighted position which consolidates the nation’s unanimity as well as the extensive international support the Moroccan Initiative has received.
We also expect the sister nation Algeria to participate positively in the political negotiation process at this historical juncture. Indeed, we all must live up to the expectations not only of our peoples, who look forward to building a prosperous Maghreb Union, but to those of the international community as well, which is expecting a consensual and democratic solution
to this long lasting regional dispute.
In this respect, let me say, in all frankness, that Morocco condemns and rejects any attempt to impose situations as facts on the ground, or to undermine the Kingdom’s territorial integrity, inside its true borders, or the nation’s immutable, inalienable sovereignty.
Morocco stood up, throughout history, against any attempts threatening its territorial integrity and it will not accept, now or any time in the future, the policy of the fait accompli. It will preserve its national unity and territorial integrity in order to spare the entire region the perils of balkanization. These perils entail hard-to-control consequences, and their instigators may well be the first casualties.
Morocco commends the presence of the sister nation Mauritania in these negotiations as well as the role it is playing to promote a consensual political solution that guarantees security and stability in the region and help the Mauritanian people and leadership to create proper conditions for sustainable development. Given this country’s wisdom, its presence in these
negotiations provides an added value, promotes the spirit of Maghreb solidarity and brotherhood, and contributes to seizing this historical momentum.
Mr. the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our region and the world are hoping this third round will enable us, by the grace of the Almighty and the good will of all of us, to go into substantive negotiations on the details and specifics of a lasting, consensual political solution based on a precise timetable and clear,
Morocco is prepared to introduce its initiative and to discuss it in detail, section by section, to show that an autonomy based on democratic and representative institutions operating within the framework of the Kingdom’s sovereignty and national and territorial integrity is the most suitable course of action to achieve the desired solution.
Morocco considers that successful negotiations based on the autonomy initiative would be a victory not simply for the Moroccan people, but for all Maghreb peoples who yearn for unity and integration. We want such a solution to be a triumph for the universal values of peace and for security, stability, democracy, dignity, human rights, development, progress, prosperity and the peaceful settlement of disputes.
As such, this solution would be a triumph for the lofty values of the United Nations, under whose auspices we are meeting today. It would also be consistent with the logic of history and the inevitability of our common destiny.
Whatever the difficulties, Morocco will go ahead with its peaceful, development-oriented agenda, building on the mobilization of all of the nation’s components, for the benefit not only of Saharan tribes and populations, but also our steadfast people and all sister and friendly
Before concluding, Morocco wishes to thank The UN Secretary General, His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon, the Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, Mr. Lynn Pascoe, the Personal Envoy for the Sahara, Mr. Peter van Walsum and all their Assistants and the UN organs as well as all sister and friendly sates who have constantly supported negotiation and reconciliation efforts to break the stalemate.
This is the realistic and just solution, which fulfils the aspirations of current and future generations. It will make it possible, at national, regional and international levels, to pool our resources and to devote them to building democracy, promoting respect for human rights, achieving development and integration, and consolidating security and stability. Such a lasting solution would promote coexistence between our peoples and help us preserve our longstanding brotherly ties, whatever the circumstances. We would thus be worthy of our common past and go down in history as peacemakers and as advocates of unity and concord.
This is the policy of the Kingdom of Morocco. We call on our brothers to show courage and sound judgment, and to uphold the bonds of kinship by joining us in building peace, and rejecting dissensions, rancor and tensions. With good will and sincere intentions, I know they can.