The European Union reiterated Wednesday that its position remains unchanged regarding the status of Western Sahara, saying none of the EU states recognizes the self-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) announced by the Polisario front in 1976.
Responding to a question about whether an invitation could be extended to the separatists to take part in the European Union-African Union summit, which opens Thursday in Brussels, the EU Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Peter Stano, stated that the EU did not invite the Polisario.
The EU is co-organizing the summit with the AU, and each organization is responsible for inviting its members. It is therefore the African Union that has taken responsibility for inviting its members.
The EU could not interfere in the AU’s decisions with regard to its members.
Stano said that the AU gesture “does not change the position of the European Union.”
He further reiterated that none of the EU’s 27 members recognizes the SADR or its leadership’s goal for a breakaway state in Western Sahara.
Europe’s position was previously stated in Abidjan, the Ivory Coast, in 2017. At the time, Brussels said it does not recognize the legitimacy of the SADR claims to Moroccan regions in Western Sahara.
More than 850 Sahrawi NGOs active in the area of human rights and sustainable development have strongly rejected the participation of the military leader of Polisario in the summit.
In a letter sent to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, and the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, the NGOs expressed their astonishment and their rejection of the participation in the EU-AU summit “of a man and an organization responsible for serious violations of human rights and misappropriation of European aid."
"For us, it is incomprehensible and highly condemnable", said the 852 NGOs that signed the petition sent to the three senior European officials.