Spain, Morocco agree to reopen borders with Ceuta, Melilla

The land borders between Morocco and Spain’s autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla are set to reopen on Tuesday, two years after closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a diplomatic crisis, Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska confirmed Thursday. [Shutterstock/Aritra Deb]

The land borders between Morocco and Spain’s autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla are set to reopen on Tuesday, two years after closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a diplomatic crisis, Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska confirmed Thursday.

The official reopening will take place on Tuesday at midnight (17 May), said Grande Marlaska, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported.

On Wednesday (11 May), Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares made the official announcement to reporters in Marrakech following meetings with his Moroccan counterpart, Naser Burita.

It was the first encounter between the two foreign ministers since a crisis erupted after the Spanish government permitted the leader of the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi movement that supports independence for Western Sahara, to travel to Spain for medical treatment last year.

Albares, who was not in office at the time, said that the “political decision” to reopen the frontiers between Morocco and Spain’s North African territories had been agreed.

The reopening of the borders would be “ordered and gradual.”

Spain’s North African territories were the scene of a crisis last year when thousands of migrants crossed the border into Ceuta shortly after Madrid’s decision to grant medical aid to the Polisario leader.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez at the time accused Rabat of showing disrespect following reports that Moroccan authorities had facilitated the influx of migrants.

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