Quote: ‘This will be a great opportunity to redefine our relationship and the pillars that support it. A relationship between countries that are allies and brothers’ – Pedro Sánchez

King Mohammed VI of Morocco has been in talks with Spain’s president Pedro Sánchez expressing his wish that the countries turn over the page and start again in the wake of a diplomatic crisis in April.

“This will be a great opportunity to redefine our relationship and the pillars that support it.

“A relationship between countries – which are allies and brothers,” said Sánchez.

The Moroccan monarch is a long-term personal friend of Spain’s former King, Juan Carlos I, who abdicated in favour of his son in June 2014.

The friendship between Morocco and Spain has historical ties with their geographical proximity having seen strong alliances.

A diplomatic crisis arose in April after Brahim Ghali, leader of the Polisario Front in the disputed Western Sahara territory, was admitted to hospital in Spain.

Spain’s solidarity with the Saharawi people is legendary, with children from the refugee camps spending summers in the country with host families – although Morocco refuses to accept Western Sahara as a separate nation.

This had never caused any real issues between the two neighbouring nations, which share a land border, via the Spanish city-provinces of Ceuta and Melilla, until the Polisario leader was given medical treatment in Spain.

Moroccan authorities turned a blind eye, when thousands of desperate migrants stormed the Ceuta border fence in May, gaining entry, including nearly 1,100 unaccompanied children and teenagers.

Pedro Sánchez thanked King Mohammed VI for his ‘olive branch’ adding: “From all crises, opportunities arise, and this is a great opportunity to redefine our relationship.”

King Mohammed VI expressed his desire for a close friendship between the two nations – based upon confidence, trust, transparency, mutual consideration, and respect for each other’s commitments.

“We welcome those words, because confidence and trust, respect and co-operation, now and in the future, are the basis upon which we can build a much more solid relationship than the one we’ve had up to now,” said Sánchez.

President Sànchez said the 1,100 children and teens who entered the Spanish ‘pocket’ of Ceuta, which has an estimated 85,000 inhabitants, have been cared for properly since day one, with the help of Ceuta’s authorities, Morocco, and various charities.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and Council of Europe president Charles Michel both championed King Mohammed VI’s words.

“Morocco is an honorary member and partner of the European Union, with whom we maintain a very close co-operation, so having a good relationship with this country is just as important to the EU, as it is to Spain,” they said.