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Algeria renews ties with Spain

After a period of diplomatic tension caused by Madrid’s change of heart on the Western Sahara issue, Algeria announced Thursday the appointment of a new ambassador to Spain, thus marking a step towards the normalization of bilateral relations.

The Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the appointment of Abdelfetah Daghmoum as Algerian ambassador to Spain, following the approval of the Spanish government. This decision comes after a period of nearly 20 months of diplomatic estrangement between the two countries.

Tension erupted when Spain took a position in favor of the Moroccan autonomy plan for Western Sahara, thus breaking with its traditional neutrality on this issue. This decision, announced by Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez as part of a closer approach to Rabat, led to the recall of the Algerian ambassador in March 2022.

In retaliation, Algiers suspended a friendship treaty concluded in 2002 with Madrid, restricted commercial transactions with Spain and froze banking operations between the two countries. These measures had a considerable impact on several economic sectors, notably ceramics, agri-food and construction, with frozen projects and a fall in exports.

The dispute over Western Sahara, described as a “non-autonomous territory” by the UN, has pitted Morocco against the Polisario Front for decades. Rabat is proposing an autonomy plan under its sovereignty while the Polisario is demanding a self-determination referendum, in accordance with the 1991 ceasefire agreement, which was never carried out.