Turkish FM downplays 'misunderstanding' over pro-Polisario video
CASABLANCA - Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu downplayed the “misunderstanding” over a video broadcast on a Turkish state television channel about a Sahrawi separatist which almost sparked a political crisis between Rabat and Ankara.
“There has been a misunderstanding about a video broadcast by one of the Turkish TV channels, which has been corrected, but the position of Turkey and our government is very clear, we fully support the integrity of our brother country the Kingdom of Morocco,” said Cavusoglu during a joint press conference with Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita in Rabat on the sidelines of the commemoration by Morocco of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OCI).
“We do not support any separatist group or agenda, and any problem should of course be resolved peacefully, this is our common position and we will continue to support not only the territorial integrity of our brother country the Kingdom of Morocco, but also the stability and security for this very important country for us, for the Muslim world and for this part of the world,” said the Turkish FM.
In an interview aired last week on TRT World and made available on social media, Sahrawi separatist Aminatou Haidar was dubbed as the “Ghandi of Western Sahara.”
The video has now been removed from social networks.
Morocco annexed Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, and fought a war with the Algeria-backed Polisario Front from 1975 to 1991, when a ceasefire deal was agreed.
The UN mission was deployed to monitor the truce and prepare a referendum on Western Sahara's independence from Morocco, but it never materialized.
Morocco considers Western Sahara an integral part of the kingdom and has offered autonomy, but not an independence referendum.
The video almost sparked a political crisis between Turkey and Morocco at a time when Rabat is mulling the readjustment of the Free trade Agreement between the two nations due to the huge trade deficit.
The Turkish FM expressed his country's willingness to examine ways to rebalance trade with Morocco, adding that a Turkish trade delegation would soon visit Rabat for talks on the matter.
“We have examined how to develop this partnership in a clear talk. All our meetings are part of the framework of positive and multidimensional partnership.”
“We also examined how to overcome some of the particular trade barriers that create problems in our partnership,” added Bourita.
(This article originally appeared in Middle East Online)