BREAKING NEWS

BREAKING NEWS

Euronews interviews Taib Fassi Fihri

Now Reading:

Euronews interviews Taib Fassi Fihri

Text size Aa Aa

The Moroccan Foreign Affairs Minister was in Brussels on Wednesday to present to Europe Morocco’s point of view on the situation in Western Sahara. Our correspondent joined him to ask about the violent clashes witnessed after security forces moved into a protest camp near Laayoune.

Taib Fassi Fihri, Moroccan Foreign Minister:

Security forces intervened that day equipped with only protective vests and batons. Unfortunately they were attacked with Molotov cocktails, gas cylinders, machetes and knives. One policeman had his throat slit. Today, people, including those in the European parliament, understand that they were victims of manipulation; they were influenced because they didn’t have the facts that I have just given you and that in Western Sahara that day there were journalists and members of parliament present…

Sergio Cantone, euronews:

That is not true because several journalists from France, Spain, America, Germany and elsewhere in Europe were not allowed access…

Taib Fassi Fihri:

There were French, Spanish, American, German journalists who were given access when the camp was being set up and they said that the camp was safe, that there were around a thousand people in a blockade and that they were starving. We can show today that between 400 and 600 cars went into the camp.

Sergio Cantone:

No. The world’s press immediately denounced the fact that they weren’t given access to Sahara and Laayoune and those places where there were tensions…

Taib Fassi Fihri:

Let’s speak about that. When the camp was dismantled, it was done peacefully and everyone recognises that. No deaths in the civilian camp. Some journalists had been there for several weeks and others tried to get in but militiamen prevented them, saying ‘If you don’t go in through the Spanish entrance, you can’t get into the camp.’ So there was a manipulation, and that’s understood today, things were being amplified, exaggerated. The intention was simply to distract people from what was essential. And that was the negotiations.

I tell you that when we asked the Polisario Front to say how many people died in the operation, they couldn’t. And when they started talking about Auschwitz, when the Polisario Front started telling sections of the European media that there was some kind of Pinochet-like activity going on, we asked for lists. We were given two names. Two deaths. Well these two people are alive. they can testify to that. Why don’t you report that?

Sergio Cantone:

Why not let the people decide for themselves…allow self-determination…which means holding a referendum.

Taib Fassi Fihri:

No it does not, sir. That’s what I’m telling you. In the United Nations charter the word ‘referendum’ does not appear. In the Security Council resolutions, it does not appear either. In the General Assembly of the United Nations, which brings together all states, not just the permanent ones and the non-permanent ones, it does not appear. And I am telling you that in United Nations practice, the use of referenda is only in a minority of cases. It is negotiation that is fundamental for self-determination. So when you start spreading the idea that self-determination equals referendum, you are having a negative influence and of course you become the spokesman for other parties who are blocking the negotiations.

Sergio Cantone:

I ask questions, I’m not a spokesman.

Taib Fassi Fihri:

Yes you are. You said that a referendum is self-determination.

Sergio Cantone:

I just ask questions. In any case, do you feel you have the support of the European Union now or not?

Taib Fassi Fihri:

In general terms of our bilateral relations…

Sergio Cantone:

No, on this specific case.

Taib Fassi Fihri:

There again it’s important. Morocco is the most serious, the most committed partner of the European Union in all domains: politically, economically, culturally, in security. The question of Western Sahara is debated by us and the European Union regularly. The European Union has the same position as the United Nations; it is for substantial negotiations based on Morocco’s efforts since 2006 and which tend towards compromise and realism. Compromise and realism means distancing yourself from the extreme positions held before. that’s the position of the European Union. (It is a legal position held also by many of its member states.?)

Sergio Cantone:

Even if an EU country happened to adopt a more pro-Polisario stance, or listened more to the Polisario Front, you say that fishing agreements and other agreements would not be affected?

Taib Fassi Fihri:

I think governments are well placed, particularly EU governments are the best placed to understand the realities of the Sahara issue; its origins, what is blocking it and also the cost of not resolving it. Member states are the first, along with the Commission, to realise the incredible effort Morocco is making to make progress with the European Union. And all member states are well enough equipped to have a lucid position on the Sahara question and not just in terms of adversity. And that no matter how much or how little influence any given country can have on a European Union level.