Speaking in Tunis on Tuesday, April 10, Josep Pique, the Spanish foreign minister, called on the countries of the Arab Maghreb Union—Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania—to speed up efforts toward integration.
Coming out of a meeting with Tunisian President Zine Al-Abidine Bin Ali, Pique said that his country and the European Union see as essential the completion of the Maghreb integration process, which began more than a decade ago, in 1989.
Since 1995, the integration process has been almost paralyzed, mainly because of a dispute between Algeria and Morocco, over Morocco’s claim to Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony.
Algeria has actively supported the Polisario Front, a guerilla group fighting Moroccan government forces in the region. For his part, Pique said that Madrid supports UN efforts to peacefully resolve the conflict.
During his meeting with the Tunisian president, Pique complimented Tunisia on its central role in advancing integration among the countries of the Mediterranean basin.
Pique said that the Spanish government was interested in seeing a rise in Spanish investments in the Tunisian economy. At present, 31 Spanish companies are operating in Tunisia, where their total investments are estimated at 188 million dinars ().
Spain currently is Tunisia's fifth largest trading partner with a volume of trade worth 900 million Tunisian dinars in 2000. — (Albawaba-MEBG)
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