SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 5 July 2022, Tuesday |

Spain slams recent Algeria comments on Foreign Minister as ‘unacceptable’

“Unacceptable,” described Spain’s Environment Minister, Teresa Ribera, the Algerian state news agency’s comments about the Spanish Foreign Minister on Wednesday, Anadolu News Agency reports.

An opinion article published by Algeria Press Service on Tuesday blamed Spanish Foreign Minister, Jose Manuel Albares, for the “unprecedented crisis” between Madrid and Algiers.

The article called Albares a “pyromaniac” as well as an “unworthy,” “amateur,” and “pseudo-diplomat.” It also accused him of manipulating EU officials against Algeria by saying Russia was behind the bilateral crisis.

Last week, Algeria suspended a two-decade friendship treaty with Spain and sent out an order for banks to freeze operations related to imports and exports.

Spanish companies that do business with Algeria said all orders have been put on hold as the banking freeze essentially makes trade impossible.

However, natural gas, one of the most substantial parts of bilateral trade, continues to flow normally.

Reacting to Algeria’s move, Albares took an emergency trip to Brussels on Friday.
After meeting with Albares, the EU released a statement saying Algeria’s actions “appear to be in violation of the EU-Algeria Association Agreement” and that the EU is “ready to stand up against any type of coercive measures.”

Algeria’s Foreign Ministry then issued a statement, denying it had frozen trade with Spain, calling the EU’s statement “hasty and unfounded.”

Several Spanish companies, however, say they are still unable to do business with Algeria. Meanwhile, the Spanish government says it is investigating the extent to which Algeria’s actions are interfering with trade.

On Tuesday, Algerian Finance Minister, Abderrahmane Raouya, the man thought to be responsible for giving the order to freeze banking, resigned from his post.

At the root of this diplomatic crisis is Spain’s U-turn on its position regarding Western Saharan independence.

Spain now supports Rabat’s view that Western Sahara should be an autonomous region with Morocco.

Algeria severed diplomatic ties with Rabat last year and closed the pipeline that supplied Morocco with natural gas.

Despite Spain’s diplomatic friction with Algeria, more European countries are turning to the Northern African nation for its ability to help them wean off of Russian gas.

On Monday, German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, travelled to Algeria, hoping to strengthen bilateral relations and ties around energy.

In April, Italy also signed a deal with Algeria to dramatically boost natural gas imports.

    Source:
  • Middle East Monitor