Participants at the Ministerial Conference on the Morocco-proposed Autonomy Initiative have voiced support to the Moroccan autonomy plan as the basis for a fair and permanent solution to the regional conflict.
Morocco and the US hosted the virtual conference, with 41 countries participating.
Speaking at the event, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita recalled that the conflict over the Sahara is a relic of the Cold War era and that the status quo has lasted for long.
But now there’s an acceleration of transformational developments, he said, highlighting that at the UN, 17 successive resolutions consolidate the Moroccan autonomy plan.
Bourita emphasized that “the US Presidential Proclamation has not emerged from a vacuum; it is the result of decades of strong bipartisan support to the Moroccan autonomy initiative.”
He also underscored the impetus added to the autonomy plan with the recent US proclamation and the opening of consulates in the Sahara by 20 countries.
“The Autonomy Initiative is not a mere intellectual concept,” Bourita told attendees. “It is a pragmatic political path, a societal project and a constructive solution, which is already on the move,” he stated.
The Moroccan FM highlighted that diplomatic momentum was leading to “an acceleration of transformational developments,” emphasizing progress at the UN, US recognition of sovereignty and widespread support for the autonomy plan among UN member states.
He furthermore underscored how Morocco’s autonomy plan was serious, credible, and realistic.
David Schenker, US assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, said in his opening remarks that the US recognition of “Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara makes clear our view that Morocco’s autonomy proposal is the only basis for a just and lasting solution to the conflict.”
He called on the international community to back the autonomy plan as “the only credible and realistic basis for negotiations.”
“After nearly three decades of the status quo failing to produce a breakthrough, let us seize this moment to reinvigorate negotiations within the framework of Morocco’s autonomy plan,” Schenker said.