Danish government zigzagging over Western Sahara

Danish Minister for Trade and Investment, Pia Olsen Dyhr, says that Denmark will not support or subsidize Danish companies that operate illegally in Western Sahara.

A month ago, the Minister was rather less adamant when replying to a letter from Danish solidarity movement, Africa Contact. “The government will not oppose Danish companies operating in areas such as Western Sahara, but the External Action Service is reluctant to actively support such activities.”

In a response to the Danish Committee on Foreign Affairs in March, however, Pia Olsen Dyhr now says that “the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has no tax-financed programmes or undertakings that seek to promote Danish business interests in Western Sahara, nor does the Ministry have any plans of such undertakings. Based on a concrete enquiry by the Danish Export Credit Agency (EKF), concerning whether the EKF could risk assess Danish investments in Western Sahara, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs discouraged the EKF from working in areas, such as Western Sahara, where the question of sovereignty is presently unresolved.”

All trade in resources from occupied areas such as Western Sahara, colonised by Morocco since 1975, is illegal under international law (e.g. the UN Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights §1,2) unless the indigenous inhabitants of Western Sahara, the Saharawis, agree to and benefit from such trade.

According to the Saharawis themselves – those from the occupied territories as well as the more than 150.000 Saharawis living in refugee camps in the Algerian dessert – they have neither been asked nor do they benefit from Moroccos selling of their phosphate and fishing quotas, something that is confirmed by Abba Malainin from the Saharawi liberation front, Polisario. “The Saharawis have not been consulted,” he tells Africa Contact.

These claims are supported by a secret statement from the European Parliament’s Legal Service from 2009, which therefore concludes that the much debated fisheries agreement between the EU and Morocco, that allows the EU’s fishing fleet to fish of the shores of Western Sahara, is illegal under present circumstances.

Read More:

The article in Danish

The story in Sahara Press Service

The story on RASD TV (13:08 min)

The case for Western Saharan independence

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