February 1, 2023

The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation has refused permission for the Canary Islands to become an “archipelago state” for negotiations with Morocco on the demarcation of maritime boundaries, as the archipelago seeks greater control over territorial waters.

In a response from the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday, Monday, to the petitioner of the Independent Parliamentary Group in the Canary Islands, it was said that the demand to give the Canary Islands the official status of an archipelago of a state so that the islands could gain greater control over its waters, again contradicts the refusal of the central authority, which does not see the need to take any action in this regard.

And the Spanish Foreign Ministry stated in its written response that it “already complies with the obligations arising from international treaties”, which indirectly excludes the promotion of the procedures necessary for the Canary Islands to obtain full internal autonomy (PAI) status. allowing to delimit sea spaces from archipelagic waters.

The official response of the government showed that “the inclusion of the Canary Islands in the Spanish constitution does not contradict the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), despite the fact that they are not officially recognized as an archipelago of the state. “

The definitions established by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea indicate that “the Canary Islands may be recognized at the state level as an archipelago belonging to the Spanish State”, without specifying the possibility of exploiting territorial waters.

As part of the parliamentary question submitted by the host group, “the response of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs represents a position consistent with the goals of demarcating the boundaries of territorial waters, in addition to fulfilling the historical demand of the Canarian people, who are increasingly interested in the actions of the neighboring country, Morocco”, as stated in the rationale question.

Article 46 of the Convention on the Seas distinguishes between an “archipelago State” – a country composed entirely of one or more archipelagos – and an “archipelago”, which is a group of islands and the waters connecting them, constituting a geographical and economic group and a political unit.

The government’s repeated refusal to promote the Canary Islands’ access to greater control over their waters comes two weeks before a high-level meeting (RAN) between Spain and Morocco to discuss maritime demarcation.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea has included in article 76 that coastal states have the right to claim an extension of the 200 nautical miles that have historically been set aside as an exclusive economic zone from their coasts. This extension can be challenged “as long as it is scientifically and technically proven that the flooded area is a natural extension of what appeared.”

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