Sweden will not recognize W. Sahara

The Swedish Foreign Ministry confirmed Friday that Sweden will not recognize Western Sahara despite a parliamentary vote to recognize it.

Foreign Minister Margot Wallström writes in a press release that 'the matter of Western Sahara is a decolonisation issue at the UN and is on the Security Council agenda' and that the government will intensify its efforts to support the UN process.

The chair of the Social Democrat youth wing, Philip Botström, is critical of the government's decision and calls it 'a fiasco'.

"This is a big blow to the people of Western Sahara, and not least to the younger generation. They had counted on Sweden for support," Botström writes in a press release.

The issue has long been politically controversial. During the previous center-right Alliance administration, the opposition Social Democrats were able to gain a majority in parliament and vote to recognize Western Sahara. The government, however, did not follow the decision.

When the government changed hands in 2014 many believed the new Social Democrat-Green coalition would move to recognize Western Sahara, especially after recognizing Palestine for which there was no parliamentary majority.

Morocco has been very critical of a potential recognition of the disputed territory. Morrocan political delegations have visited Sweden in an attempt to sway politicians.

The North African country is an important trade partner to Sweden. According to Swedish Television's sources, trade with the country has suffered during the diplomatic crisis. Moroccan authorities, for example, blocked the grand opening of an Ikea store in the country. Ikea has plans to open five new stores in Morocco.