By Chaimaa Zahaar and Chaymaa Benallouch
Rabat – Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Nasser Bourita, has said that the initial approval expressed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for Morocco’s request to join this regional bloc, constitutes a “recognition of the personal involvement” of King Mohammed VI and Morocco’s “long-term investment’’ in this region.
“This is a very important decision,” he told the press after concluding the 51st Ordinary Session of the Summit of Heads of State and Government (ECOWAS), which culminated in the announcement of the bloc’s agreement in principle of the kingdom’s accession to the organization.
By taking this step, “the member states of the ECOWAS sent three important messages, namely the initial approval of Morocco’s accession to this organization, the recognition of the strong multidimensional relation that the Kingdom brings together in ECOWAS countries, and inviting his Majesty, King Mohammed VI, to participate in the forthcoming summit of this organization,” said Bourita.
Morocco’s chief diplomat went on to say that the initial approval marked what he called the completion of “the political phase” of the process to secure the Kingdom’s membership in the organization.
The next phase will be a “legal” one, Bourita explained, stating that the ECOWAS commission will examine the legal measures that should be adapted to make Morocco’s accession effective. Meanwhile, Morocco will have legal work to do to adapt its texts to the organization’s founding principles.
The technical phase will focus on negotiations regarding cooperation in various sectors that would be beneficial to ECOWAS.
As Bourita mentioned, the King has made more than 25 visits to ECOWAS countries since 2001, during which time more than 600 agreements have been signed.
The minister also pointed to the fact that Morocco is the first investor in this region, which receives two thirds of the Kingdom’s foreign investments.
ECOWAS’s positive reception to Morocco’s membership application “reinforces this investment and these relations between Morocco and the countries of the ECOWAS Group and opens a new horizon for cooperation between the two sides,” said the minister.
Bourita concluded that “After the return of Morocco to the African Union last January, the decision taken today by the Heads of State and Government ECOWAS, supports the African policy of Morocco and the King, and the priority it attaches to Africa, which is at the heart of the Kingdom’s foreign policy.”