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Reply of the Kingdom of Morocco to Mr. Baker’s proposal entitled “Peace Plan for the Self-Determination of Western Sahara”

The Kingdom of Morocco has always supported the Secretary-General of the United Nations and his Personal Envoy in their effort to find a political solution based on a compromise between the two options provided for under the 1991 Settlement Plan, which turned out to be inapplicable.

When the Personal Envoy came to the conclusion that the plan was inapplicable, and recommended at the Berlin meeting, on 28 September 2000, to seek an alternative political solution, the Kingdom of Morocco immediately assured him of its support. Thus, in February 2001, Mr. Baker suggested that this solution be in the form of an autonomy status whereby the Kingdom of Morocco would be expected to offer “some devolution of authority for all inhabitants and former inhabitants of the territory that is genuine, substantial and in keeping with international norms”. When the Personal Envoy, building on this initiative, submitted to the Security Council in June 2001, a draft framework agreement for autonomy, Morocco immediately expressed readiness to negotiate a final settlement with the other parties, on this basis.

The Kingdom of Morocco has never failed to honour its commitment to participate, in good faith, in the negotiations with a view to achieving a mutually acceptable political solution. Thus, it submitted, in due course, to the Personal Envoy, its observations which consist in a documented and critical analysis of his peace plan. In particular, Morocco noted that the architecture of this proposal goes against the legitimate interests of the Kingdom. It also noted that the said plan strays from the autonomy political solution that had been initially accepted by the Personal Envoy.

Notwithstanding these objections, the Kingdom of Morocco has pursued open dialogue with the Personal Envoy, in accordance with the recommendations contained in Security Council resolution 1495 (2003), dated 31 July 2003. Thus, on 17 September and 23 December 2003 and on 2 April 2004, meetings were held in Houston, during which fundamental issues relating to Morocco’s reply were discussed.

This dialogue provided an opportunity for Morocco to specify those aspects of the proposed plan which the Kingdom considers as unacceptable, and to discuss the other issues, in view of the negotiations to be held by the parties, as called for by the Security Council in resolution 1495 (2003).

Morocco took a position which was determined in the light of the meaning given to the political solution, always presented as a compromise solution consisting of autonomy within the framework of Moroccan sovereignty. Thus, the population would be expected to manage its own local affairs, with the necessary safeguards, and without prejudice to the sovereignty prerogatives of the Kingdom of Morocco and its territorial integrity. Such autonomy, agreed to between the parties and the United Nations, would close the issue of self-determination and enhance the territorial stability of the States of the region.

Clearly, this autonomy-based political solution can only be final. This is why the Kingdom of Morocco cannot agree to a transitional period, marked by uncertainty as to the final status of the territory. Such a transitional period, envisaged under the proposed peace plan of the Personal Envoy, is likely to usher in an era of insecurity and instability for the whole Maghreb. Consequently, and as far as the Kingdom is concerned, the final nature of the autonomy solution is not negotiable.

On the other hand, the autonomy solution, as agreed to by the parties and approved by the population, rules out, by definition, the possibility for the independence option to be submitted to the said population. It is, therefore, out of the question for Morocco to engage in negotiations with anyone over its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Everyone would understand that Morocco, just like any other State, cannot accept a questioning which is likely to destabilize it and to challenge the most sacred principles which have, throughout history, founded its unity and safeguarded its perpetuity.

With these aspects ruled out from the Personal Envoy’s proposal, the Kingdom of Morocco solemnly reaffirms its readiness to negotiate a final settlement through a viable autonomy status for the Sahara region, in the interest of peace and stability for all States of the Maghreb. This status will provide for exclusive competences for the region, along with the relevant bodies to enforce them.

It would be appropriate to take into account the process that has been initiated by the Kingdom in an effort to build a democratic and modern society which is firmly attached to its identity and which derives its richness from the combination of numerous elements, of which the Saharan culture is a major component. Similarly, we should draw on the experiences of countries which are geographically and culturally close to Morocco.

In this respect, Morocco is ready to enter into negotiations, at any time, with the other parties and with the United Nations, in order to achieve a mutually acceptable settlement to the longstanding dispute over Sahara.