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Algeria's decision to suspend the friendship treaty with Spain which it signed 20 years ago has not only caused concern in the Spanish state, but also in the halls of the European Union. The European Commission has spoken frankly of its apprehension over the diplomatic move by the North African country and has called on Algiers to change its mind. "We appeal to Algeria to reverse this decision," European Commission chief spokesperson Eric Mamer said at the institution's daily press conference on Thursday.

EU foreign affairs spokesperson Nabila Massrali described the move as "deeply worrying", as she recalled that Algeria, which was urged to "review its decision", was an "important partner of the European Union" in the Mediterranean and a "key actor for regional stability". "We are evaluating the impact of the decision, and solutions must be found through dialogue and diplomatic means," said Massrali, who detailed that the dialogue that the European Commission was backing was between Madrid and Algiers, adding as well that Brussels is working with Spain to "overcome the current disagreement", according to the Efe agency.

Response to Spanish U-turn on Sahara

Algeria announced the suspension of its friendly relations with Spain in response to the diplomatic about-face by Pedro Sánchez's government over Western Sahara, when a few weeks ago it suddenly moved to support Morocco's position, which proposes that the territory become a self-governing region under the sovereign control of Rabat. This unexpected change in the Spanish position on its former colony, whose right to self-determination it has historically backed, has been highly criticised both within and without Spanish borders. Algeria quickly disagreed and began to impose trade restrictions with Spain.

Algeria's first retaliatory moves were relatively unobtrusive, but now the suspension of the 2002 treaty makes the diplomatic crisis clear and palpable. So much so that it has set off alarms in Brussels. For his part, Algerian president Abdelmadjid Tebboune was firm in his decision: "The Spanish authorities have launched a campaign to justify their position on Western Sahara, a violation of their legal, moral and political obligations that weigh on the Kingdom of Spain as the administrative power of the territory".

Spain remains calm with gas

Algeria's decision comes at a time when Europe is immersed in a major energy crisis and one of the imports from Algeria which has raised the greatest concern is its gas, which Spain needs. However, the Pedro Sánchez government has called for calm. Spanish foreign minister, José Manuel Albares, reported on Thursday that the government is analyzing the consequences of Algeria's decision to suspend the friendship treaty with Spain and will give a "calm, constructive, but firm" response in favour of Spanish interests.