Borrell Returns from Algeria, With Hidden Nostalgia, And Spain Is Biggest Loser
The European Union is having great difficulty in persuading Algeria to normalize relations with one of its members represented in Spain, almost a year after the outbreak of the crisis between the two parties, following the decision by the Pedro Sanchez government to change its position on the Sahrawi issue in a way that serves the thesis of the Moroccan Makhzen regime, represented by the so-called “autonomy plan”.
According to media reports, the request made by the European Union’s High Commissioner for Political Affairs and Defence, Josep Borrell, to the Algerian authorities to normalize relations with Madrid has not fallen on deaf ears.
The European official paid an official visit to Algeria last Sunday and Monday and was received by senior Algerian state officials, headed by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, and the complex crisis between Algeria and Madrid was one of the files put on the negotiating table.
The Spanish side relied on Borrell’s visit to Algeria to lift the sanctions imposed on Spanish companies, but it seems that the results of this visit will shock the government of Pedro Sanchez, whose departure from the “Moncloa” palace in Madrid became a condition for any Algerian-Spanish rapprochement.
In the speech Borrell gave after his meeting with President Tebboune, the European official praised Algeria as a “reliable partner” in the fields of energy and security, but he made no reference to the diplomatic crisis between Algeria and Madrid, referring only to the importance of improving trade relations in the context of the ongoing crisis. Spain, a member of the European Union, has been knocking on every door to get the sanctions imposed on it by Algeria lifted, but to no avail.
Algeria appears to be in a position of strength in the face of Europe’s unbridled desire to revive the partnership agreement signed with Brussels in 2002 and entered into force in 2005, which was suspended for almost three years by a decision of the Algerian side, which is no longer convinced of the feasibility of continuing this agreement after having lost almost thirty billion dollars since its inception, bearing in mind that the terms of the agreement allow either party to reconsider it if it causes damage.
The Algerian side has always called for a review of some of the provisions of the agreement, but the Partnership Council, made up of representatives of both sides, has not met to decide on the matter, as provided for in the agreement, because the Spanish side has exploited one of the mechanisms of this Council, represented by “consensus”, in order to obstruct its cohesion, as has been said recently, in a statement issued by the Algerian Foreign Ministry.
The European position seems weak in relation to Algeria for several reasons, the first of which is the changes that the world is witnessing after the Russian special military operation in Ukraine, which heralds the birth of a new world that transcends the unipolarity that has existed for three decades, and the second is the complaint of the Algerian side about the failure of the European side to fulfill the investment promises that it had made. During the accession negotiations, as well as the birth of the “BRICS” group, which is considered the pole that suits Algeria in the light of the current regional and international blocs.
The European Union fears that any possible pressure on Algeria, in solidarity with Spain, could lead to counterproductive results that could be very damaging for Brussels, given the importance of Algeria in the field of energy, especially gas, at a time when the countries of the old continent seem to be in dire need of this vital substance, given their efforts to end their dependence on Russian gas following Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine.