All historical, legal, geographical data evidence Morocco's rights on tourah islet, fm
Morocco-Spain, Politics, 8/27/2002
Moroccan minister of foreign affairs and cooperation, Mohammed Benaissa, said all historical, legal and geographical data evidence Morocco's rights on the Tourah islet (Leila), located at only 150 meters off the Moroccan northern coast. Even Spanish maps recognize its Moroccan identity, he said.
In an interview with the Egyptian weekly "Al-Ahram Al-Arabi" published over the weekend, Benaissa said Morocco did not set up a post of surveillance on the Tourah islet to show its sovereignty over the islet, but to fight drug trafficking.
Spain may have reacted the way it did out of fear that the case becomes a prelude to Morocco's claim over Sebta and Melillia (two Moroccan cities still under Spanish rule), Benaissa said. "The Spaniards are wrong, for Morocco has always claimed the two cities, which are in Moroccan territory."
Benaissa considered as "illogical" and "unacceptable" that a European country still maintains its grasp on two cities on Moroccan territory, on the African continentÉ on the ground that it has occupied them for 300 years. A long occupation does not give the right to property, and no European country will support such a thesis, he insisted.
The way the Spanish militarized the issue of the islet, which is fundamentally political, "is a dangerous precedent," evocative of 19th century methods. It also raises questions on the Euro-Mediterranean and Euro-Arab cooperation, he said.
Asked whether this conflict is linked to the Moroccan Sahara issue, Benaissa said the Sahara issue, despite the (intervention) of Spain and others, is a bilateral geopolitical issue concerning Morocco and Algeria, which must be settled between these two states.
The issue of the two Moroccan northern cities will be settled when the Spanish government will be headed by someone realistic, someone who wants to avoid further complications to our future generations, the minister said.
"Morocco prefers dialogue and does not want to resort to any solution contrary to international legality or excluding negotiation. Morocco is not for military confrontation as claimed by the Spanish media, Benaissa said.
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