Between Morocco and Spain, resumption of maritime connections after a year of estrangement

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and his Moroccan counterpart Aziz Akhannouch in Rabat on April 7, 2022.

The port of Tangier will be able to resume normal activity. Morocco will reopen its maritime passenger connections with Spain on Tuesday, April 12, following the normalization of relations between the two countries, the transport ministry said Monday evening.

“The shipping companies will gradually resume passenger services between the Moroccan ports of Tanger Med and Tanger-Ville and the Spanish ports of Algeciras and Tarifa”the ministry said in a statement. If the resumption of regular passenger and coach traffic is on the agenda for Tuesday, motorists will have to wait until April 18.

Located on the north coast of Morocco, on the Strait of Gibraltar, just 14 km from the Spanish coast, Tangier is one of the largest ports in the Mediterranean, along with Marseille and Algeciras. 40 km east of the city, the Tanger Med industrial port complex was built, operational since 2007 and whose terminals handled more than 7 million containers by 2021.

Visit of Pedro Sanchez in Rabat

In diplomatic relations with Spain, Morocco has so far upheld the ban on maritime passenger transport with Spain, a mode of transport popular with Moroccans living in Europe, after the reopening of its maritime borders, closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers Spain reunites with Morocco after a year of estrangement

But Madrid ended nearly a year of crisis on March 18, after reversing the issue of Western Sahara and recognizing the Moroccan autonomy plan for this disputed territory. The conflict in Western Sahara – a vast desert region rich in phosphates and waters full of fish – pits Morocco for decades against the Sahrawi separatists of the Polisario Front, supported by Algeria. While Rabat argues for an autonomous status under Moroccan sovereignty, the Polisario calls for a referendum on self-determination under the auspices of the UN.

Reconciliation between Spain and Morocco was sealed on Thursday with the visit to Rabat by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. The two neighboring countries have decided to:“herald a new phase” of their partnership. “We are continuing with the gradual reopening of border crossings to ensure an orderly flow of people and the goods will also flow normally”had then promised the Spanish leader.

Le Monde and AFP

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