Thursday, September 16, 2010
Morocco's relationship with Spain - Mixed messages?
To an outside observer, the relationship between Spain and Morocco is not always smooth sailing. The issue of the Moroccan territories held by Spain at Sebta and Melilia are a case in point. However, for two very mixed messages, one doesn't have to go further than this week's releases from MAP - the Moroccan government press agency.
The first headline was positive: "Relations between Spain and Morocco are 'excellent, rich and close', Spanish FM says" The second, less so: "Istiqlal party rejects planned visit of Spanish PP's president to Melilia." So read on and make your own assessment.
#1 Relations between Spain and Morocco are "excellent, rich and close", Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said on Tuesday before the Spanish Senate (upper house).
The Spanish government has always endeavored "to maintain excellent relations of friendship and cooperation with Morocco, based on mutual trust," Moratinos said, noting that these ties touch on two components, a bilateral one and another one at the level of the European Union.
Moratinos said that one of the clear aspects of the good bilateral understanding is the holding of periodic high-level meetings during which both countries go over their bilateral and regional agenda and determine their future common action.
Spain and Morocco share a lot of common interests and an important geostrategic position on the Mediterranean which offers many opportunities, while rising to the challenges with a spirit of cooperation and trust, he noted.
The trade relations between the two countries are very important, he said, adding that Spain is the second supplier, client and investor of Morocco with around 1,000 Spanish businesses in the Kingdom.
Spain takes part in the major projects of economic modernization undertaken in Morocco, a country "which boasts many investment opportunities for our corporations in the fields of construction, renewable energy, textile, tourism and the modernization of the railway sector," he added.
He said the two countries share the same philosophy concerning the field of immigration as part of a shared and integrated approach that involves the host, origin and transit countries.
"We have close cooperation with Morocco in relation to security, the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking," he said, underlining that Spain considers Morocco as " a partner and an ally" and not simply a neighboring country.
#2 Morocco's Istiqlal party has voiced its deep regret and total rejection of the intended "provocative" visit of the president of the Spanish Popular Party (PP), Mariano Rajoy, to the Moroccan, Spanish-occupied, city of Melilia.
The Istiqlal party said, in a letter sent by its secretary general Abbas El Fassi to Mariano Rajoy, that it rejects this visit regardless of its causes and aims, because it "hurts the national dignity and feelings".
The party underlined that this visit "would only damage the warm atmosphere which exists between the two countries".
It considered that "this visit does not serve our will to establish close relations between the Moroccan and the Spanish peoples and promote fruitful relation, based on mutual respect and full trust".
It highlighted "the need to engage in a serene and responsible dialogue in order to put an end to the occupation of Sebta and Melilia, based on a future vision that serves the common interests of the two countries and the common fate of the two peoples".