Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (422)

John Brady


422. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on and response to the deteriorating situation in the Western Sahara region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38586/20]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I was concerned by the reports of an exchange of gunfire between Polisario and Royal Moroccan Army (RMA) positions in the buffer zone at Guerguerat, on the border with Mauritania, on Friday 13 November. We have not seen any confirmed reports of any casualties.

The United Nations Secretary-General has made multiple contacts with the parties to avoid an escalation and to warn against violations of the ceasefire. The EU High Representative spoke to the Foreign Ministers of Algeria and Morocco on Sunday. He stressed the importance of complying with the terms of the 1991 ceasefire agreement and reiterated the EU’s support for the United Nations Mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO), which includes two members of our Defence Forces.

I fully support the efforts of the UN Secretary General and the EU HRVP in this respect. It is important that all parties avoid any action which may escalate the situation. We wish to see a swift resumption of UN-led talks. The appointment of a successor to Mr. Horst Kohler, who stepped down as Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary General for Western Sahara, is needed as a matter of urgency to encourage the engagement of the parties in talks.

Ireland’s long-held position is that Western Sahara is a non-self-governing territory. We support the right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, and do not have a view on the outcome of that decision – be it independence, integration, autonomy, or some other solution – so long as it is decided peacefully and in a genuine exercise of self-determination.