Map of Morocco on the website of its embassy in Madrid. SUR
Strained relations between Morocco and Spain after map controversy involving Ceuta and Melilla

Strained relations between Morocco and Spain after map controversy involving Ceuta and Melilla

The regional president of Melilla has called for a protest after the African nation included the Spanish enclave, and Ceuta, on a map of Morocco on its Madrid embassy website

Álvaro Soto

Álvaro Soto


Tuesday, 22 August 2023, 11:00


Spain's relationship with Morocco is on rocky ground again after officials from the African nation included the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on a map on its Madrid embassy website.

The regional president of Melilla, Juan José Imbroda, has called on the national government for "a formal protest" and blasted the move as "another hostile aggression" by Morocco against the territorial integrity of Spain.

On its website, under the heading, map of Morocco, the Embassy of the Alawite kingdom in Madrid posted an image in which the country is coloured in orange, it even covers Spanish enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla. While Algeria, Mauritania, the south of the peninsula and the Canary Islands appear in yellow. The area corresponding to Western Sahara, whose sovereignty is not recognised by the United Nations, is also in yellow.

Last Friday 18 August, in a post on social media, Imbroda demanded a "formal protest" and reminded that on 17 September it will be 526 years since Melilla belonged to Spain, "459 years before Moroccan independence".

On Sunday 20 August, in another message, Imbroda wrote: "48 hours after denouncing Morocco's inclusion of Melilla and Ceuta on its official map, I am still waiting for a formal protest from the government of Spain and the public rejection of the Melilla PSOE, although they will swallow anything. They are whitewashers."

It comes a few days after the High Representative for European Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, signed a response from the European Commission to a question, asked by Ciudadanos MEPs Maite Pagazaurtundúa and Jordi Cañas, in which he stated that Melilla and Ceuta are "Spanish". "They are territories that belong to the European Union and form part of its external borders," Borrell pointed out.

Diplomatic tensions between Spain and Morocco started more than a year ago when Madrid allowed Brahim Ghali, leader of the Polisario Front, which seeks independence for the territory of Western Sahara, to be treated for Covid-19 in a Spanish hospital.

Morocco has accused Ghali of war crimes and since 1975, when Spain withdrew from its territories and abandon the Sahara and its people. Since then, Morocco considered Sahara as part of its territory and claimed authority over Western Sahara, although the United Nations (UN) does not recognise Moroccan control. From then till now the Polisario have been fighting against Morocco.

This led to the tensions between Spain and Algeria, which heavily criticised an alleged shift in Spain's position on the issue of Western Sahara.


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