Thursday, January 22, 2015

Moroccan News Briefs #124

Europe moves to scrap visas for Moroccans

Good news emerged on Monday from an EU meeting in Brussels, where it was announced that the EU is moving to scrap visas for Moroccans.

The process, however, could be long and slow. Monday's meeting comes a year after the green light was given by the EU Council for the conclusion of a visa facilitation agreement with Moroccan nationals to ensure a smoother mobility between the EU and Morocco. In June 2013 the two parties reached a Mobility Partnership which paved the way for negotiations on such an agreement.

The agreement when and if it comes to fruition will not be an immediate end to the hassle of obtaining visas. It is likely that the initial stage will cover students, researchers and businessmen.

Former President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, has assured Moroccans that in the long term, the EU would support a move towards full mobility without visas for Moroccan citizens.

French-Moroccan diplomatic relations remain cold

The cancellation of the visit of the head of the Moroccan diplomacy in Paris reflects the  tense relations between the two countries.

A meeting scheduled for Friday between Moroccan Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar and his French counterpart Laurent Fabius has been postpone. This visit was intended to restore a high ­level dialogue following nearly a year of frozen  judicial and security cooperation between the two countries.

Salaheddine Mezouar and his French counterpart Laurent Fabius

Despite the fact that France and Morocco  are allies in the fight against terrorism and traditionally bound by strong ties of friendship, the relationship has been running cold since  February 2014 when a Parisian magistrate issued a summons against the head of Moroccan intelligence, Abdellatif Hammouchi, in connection with an alleged torture case.

Yet, the two countries have more that links them than divides them. The jihadist threat is a common cause, with hundreds, even thousands, of citizens enrolled in the civil war in Syria alongside the Islamic state or al­Qaeda, with clandestine support networks within their territory.

To break the deadlock, Paris and Rabat are negotiating a revision of their judicial collaboration. This is to avoid a repeat of the incident at the origin of the quarrel, but also to reframe the relationship between the two countries.

Controversy over Hollywood using Moroccan army resources

The French language magazine Telquel reports the controversy over the use by film crews of vehicles, weapons and personnel of the Moroccan Royal Armed Forces (FAR). The latest occasion was in the filming of American Sniper, a film based on Chris Kyle’s autobiography “American Sniper: The autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History”.

American Sniper, which was partly shot in Morocco, is said to have also featured real Moroccan army personnel in one of its battle scenes. Telquel says that Moroccan soldiers are suitable for American films because they have been trained by US military instructors so they move and fight like their American counterparts.

Eastwood’s American Sniper grossed an estimated $105 million over its first weekend in wide release.

Other films to utilise Morocco's army resources include Ridely Scott’s Gladiator (2002), Kingdom of Heaven (2005) and other American mega production films.

Film crews may also have access to military bases of the Moroccan army, the source said.

New Meters for Moroccan Taxis

According to Amjad Hemidach, writing for Morocco World News, the Moroccan Ministry of Commerce has ratified six models of new meters for small taxi drivers to promote transparency and quality service for clients.

During a meeting to announce the initiation of marketing new meters certified by government departments, Hassan Jalal, representative of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment and the digital economy in Casablanca, said the initiative aims at increasing the quality of services provided to the customer.

Hassan Jalal added that current meters are illegal and are not subject to any local or international standards. He also ascribed the delay in implementing the new meters to the need for a transitional period from the meters being used now. He claims the ministry is working hard to achieve its goal.

On September 16th, 2012 the ministry endorsed a law which would put in place strict and standardised measures for legal small taxis meters, but until the meeting the law had been just ink on paper.

Taxi drivers say that a large proportion of the current meters do not meet the standards of quality and transparency because some are very old or contraband devices from China and are used illegally within the urban areas of major Moroccan cities.

According to the same source from the ministry, technicians will monitor these new meters prior to the obtainment of an installation certificate to ensure that the meters cannot be manipulated in a fraudulent manner. The certificates will act as proof of the meters’ legitimacy.

Taxi drivers in Casablanca, numbering approximately eight thousand, will be required to change their meters in accordance with the new law.

Haj Mohamed Bouzoubaâ dies aged 75

The great master of the art of malhoun Haj Mohamed Bouzoubaâ, died Wednesday in Fez following a long illness. Haj Bouzoubaâ  died early Wednesday at the age 75 and will be buried today after Asr prayer at Al Lakbab cemetery in Fez. Haj Bouzoubaâ, whose health has deteriorated since last year, had suffered a stroke which required admission to the University Hospital of Fez.

Born August 20, 1939, Haj Bouzoubaâ was a major figure in the art of malhoun in Morocco and enriched the repertoire of radio in Fez with over 170 songs and kassaides. He also practiced as a teacher of music at the Conservatory of Music in Fez.

Print Friendly and PDF

No comments: