EU ambassador spoke incorrectly to media about EU fisheries

The EU ambassador does not know which independent institutions he himself referred to in May last year, in support of the EU fisheries agreement in Western Sahara. Yesterday, 2 Swedish students met with the embassy in Rabat, and got an answer that the EU has so far not been willing to respond to.
Published: 01.02 - 2011 20:32Printer version    
The e-mail below, which WSRW has got a copy of, was yesterday sent from 2 Swedish students to the EU embassy in Rabat. The meeting shows that the EU ambassador spoke incorrectly to Spanish media and to the international community when he claimed that independent institutions have supported the legality of the EU fisheries in Western Sahara. The only institution he referred to in his presentation in 2010, was in fact the EU parliament, whose legal service concluded the EU fisheries are illegal.


Rabat, 31 January 2010

Jérome Cassiers
First Counsellor,
EU delegation to Rabat

Dear Mr. Cassiers,

We would like to thank you for receiving us today in Rabat, and for the explanations given regarding the EU fisheries. Since the meeting we have discussed the topic and have now come up with this e-mail:

As we pointed out in our initial email to Mr. Landaburu earlier this week, and in our meeting with you, our intention was to get clarified which so-called ‘independent institutions’ Mr. Landaburu referred to when he stated in 27 May 2010 that "the European Commission and all advices from independent institutions have shown that there is no problem with the international legality of the fisheries agreement with Morocco".

As far as we understand you, - including the conversations that you sad you had had with Mr. Landaburu earlier today regarding this topic - the ambassador was here referring to statements from the European Parliament in 2006. However, since the most recent statement from the same Parliament states the opposite, namely that the agreement is ILLEGAL, not LEGAL, we find your explanation not enlightening in answering which institutions he was referring to.

We conclude from your statements to us, that the EU delegation to Rabat is not able to explain that any independent institution is currently supporting the legality of the current fisheries in Western Sahara, and that the statements from Landaburu in Rabat last year were wrong.

We would like to request your delegation to as quickly as possible reply to the below mentioned letter from Ms. Aminatu Haidar, sent on 9 August 2010. Haidar, is one of the most prominent representatives of the Sahrawi people, and is still waiting for a reply of the letter she sent to the EU ambassador. Her question could not be easier to reply to. All she needs to know is the name of the institutions he claims supports the legality of the EU fisheries. Ms. Haidar needs now to be explained that Mr. Landaburu was wrong in his statement, and that no such institution exists.

We would also request you forward this information about Landaburu’s error to the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. WSRW asked the same question to the Commissioner, regarding which institutions the ambassador referred to. However, that question has not yet been replied to either.

We expect the EU delegation in Rabat to send a rectifying note to all embassies whom were present in the event in Rabat on 27 May 2010, as well as to the news service EFE, who reported on the event, that Landaburu was wrong in his statement.

Finally, we would like to express our disappointment that Moroccan police expelled our co-students from Western Sahara yesterday. The group was in El Aaiun to interview representatives of the Sahrawis whether they wish the EU fisheries in Western Sahara to take place, and whether they have been consulted regarding the fisheries. None of them stated they had ever been consulted by Morocco nor the EU.

We urge you, to condemn the Moroccan expulsions of the students who only travelled there to collect testimonies from Sahrawis on the EU fisheries. As you probably know from reading the European Parliament’s opinion, the EU fisheries in Western Sahara are illegal if the Saharawis have not been consulted.

For your information, we will send a copy of this e-mail to EFE, WSRW and Ms. Haidar.

Jonna Wijk and Frej Winge,
Students of Jakobsberg Folkhögskola


From: Frej Winge,
Subject: To Ambassador Mr. Landaburu
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2011 22:55:13 +0100

To Ambassador Mr. Landaburu
We are two students from Sweden, visiting Rabat on the 29 until 31 of February this year. We would like to ask a meeting with you.

The background for our request is to discuss a statement made by you in the presence of ambassadors and media in Rabat 27 May 2010 regarding the legality of the EU fisheries in Western Sahara.  According to the news service EFE, you stated that "the European Commission and all advices from independent institutions have shown that there is no problem with the international legality of the fisheries agreement with Morocco".

We have learned that the leading voice of the people of Western Sahara, Ms. Aminatu Haidar, has sent a letter to you on 9 August 2010 asking which independent institutions you referred to in your statement:

We have also learned that the same question has been sent by Western Sahara Resource Watch to the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries on 27 May 2010

However, as we understand, Haidar’s letter to you has still not been responded to, and the Commission failed to answer the question in their reply to WSRW of 1 July 2010. We also understand a MEP has recently raised the same question in the European Parliament.

As far as we know, all independent institutions that have ever come with opinions on the EU’s fisheries agreement in the Non-Self Governing territory of Western Sahara are in violation of international law, since the people of Western Sahara have not been consulted. The former UN under-secretary general and Legal Counsel who wrote the Legal Opinion for the Security Council in 2002, has stated that the agreement is in clear violation of international law. The opinion of the European Parliament’s legal service, is of the same opinion.

As students we are following a special course on the Western Sahara conflict. We have in our studies never come across any independent legal opinions supporting the legality of the EU fisheries offshore Western Sahara.  

We thus want to request a meeting with you to get a clarification as to which independent institutions have supported the fisheries, as you stated in Rabat last year.

Looking forward to hear from you. You can reply on mail [...]  or email [...]

Sincerely yours,
Frej Winge and Jonna Wijk.


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