Former Italian Defense Minister: ‘EU Was Caught Like A Sitting Duck’

EU was not happy with US recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over its Sahara.

As Morocco celebrates US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the kingdom’s sovereignty over the Sahara, the European Union stands firm with the U.N. Security Council’s resolutions on the disputed region.

The EU was not all that happy with Trump’s unforeseen December 10 declaration. The Union regards the disputed region as “a non-self-governing territory […] for which a dedicated UN process is ongoing to determine its final status and which the EU supports,” as put by European External Action Service Spokesperson Peter Stano.

Peter Stano was not the only EU Parliament member who criticized Trump’s decision and called for a “just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution” to the Sahara conflict.

Mario Mauro, former Defense Minister of Italy and member of the European Parliament, said that the EU was “caught like a sitting duck” by Trump’s recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over its Sahara, emphasizing that the EU must speed up its Southern Neighborhood Strategy in line with the recent events.

In his opinion piece to EU news network, Euractiv, Mauro pointed out that Trump’s decision could be seen as a provocation against the UN. The former minister also sees that Trump’s action could be a wake-up call for Europe or the EU which “has been granting,” he reminds, “preferential tariffs to Western Sahara through its agreement with Morocco, helping the socio-economic development of the local populations.”

Mauro asserted that the EU does not need to side with Trump nor disown the UN in the context of the Sahara issue, however, it should “consider real, concrete security and stability aspects when applying its values,”  while also not being blinded by ideology.

Mauro went on questioning EU’s role in its Southern Neighborhood, namely in Africa. The European Neighborhood Policy ties 10 partner countries including Morocco to the EU through programs that involve economic development, state-building, migration, social protection, democratic development, and rule of law and good governance.

“If European citizens asked EU policymakers ‘what is our plan?’” Mauro wrote, “the EU and its Member States would answer that we support the UN-led peace process in Western Sahara, as we have for 40 years.”

US recognition of Rabat’s claim over the Sahara was part of the agreement between Israel and Morocco to normalize relations.

The agreement is already bearing fruit as Morocco and the US-Israeli delegation signed last Tuesday in Rabat a declaration to resume official contacts with Israel.

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