World, Middle East

Moroccan oil exploration poses ‘threat’ to Canary Islands, say local politicians

Leading local political group calls for seat at table regarding Atlantic waters

Alyssa Mcmurtry  | 08.11.2023 - Update : 09.11.2023
Moroccan oil exploration poses ‘threat’ to Canary Islands, say local politicians Canary Islands of Spain ( FILE PHOTO - Anadolu Agency )


The leading political party in the Canary Islands on Wednesday warned of the “threat” posed to the Spanish islands if Morocco were to carry out oil explorations in nearby Atlantic waters.

The Coalicion Canaria demanded “full transparency” from Spain’s Foreign Ministry about what is known of Morocco’s plans, emphasizing that the “future and present” of the islands are at stake.

This week, Moroccan King Mohammed VI announced his plans to launch a major initiative to revitalize Morocco’s Atlantic coast, including off the waters of the disputed territory of the Western Sahara.

In the speech, Mohammed VI stressed the importance of “an integrated economy based on the development of offshore natural resource exploration and continued investment in fisheries and seawater desalination to encourage farming activities, promote the blue economy and support renewable energies.”

Given that the Canary Islands sits in the Atlantic waters off the coast of Morocco and the Western Sahara, local politicians are demanding more information and suggesting that oil exploration is on the table.

Cristina Valido, Coalition Canaria spokesperson, said in parliament on Tuesday that the Canary Islands cannot be “mere spectators.”

“We cannot continue at the margins of bilateral relations between Spain and Morocco, not when there’s an issue that endangers the islands.”

In his speech this week, Morocco’s monarch added that its diplomacy has “consolidated Morocco’s position” on the Western Sahara.

Indeed, in 2022, Spain reversed its position on the Sahara, now accepting Rabat’s proposal to control the region.

Speaking from Copenhagen, Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares told media that “Morocco is a strategic partner” and that a number of working groups are studying the issue raised by the Canary Islands.

One of those working groups, he said, is focused on the issue of maritime delimitation on the Atlantic coast. Any related decisions made will be “based on friendship, and, of course, guaranteeing the interests of Spain and the Canary Islands,” he said.

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