In an unexpected move, King Mohammed VI has shown willingness to open borders with Algeria with “no need for third-party mediation” to serve the two peoples’ interests.
The King recalled the common history of the two neighboring countries and confirmed his willingness to revive and foster the strained relations between Morocco and Algeria.
For the King, the lack of unity between the Maghreb countries is “an unreasonable situation” which contradicts “the brotherly bonds uniting” peoples of Morocco and Algeria.
Algeria’s border with Morocco has been closed since 1994 after Morocco announced a new visa requirement for Algerians following the Marrakech terrorist attack thought, at the time, to have been perpetrated by Algiers.
Algeria and Morocco fought same enemy
“The Kingdom’s position in support of the Algerian revolution strengthened the bonds between the Moroccan Monarchy and the Algerian Resistance. It also paved the way for joint Maghrebian political awareness and action,” said the King.
The two peoples, who share the same religion, language, history and destiny, fought for freedom and independence. The two countries had fought the French occupation.
France occupied Morocco in 1912 while it occupied Algeria in 1830. Algeria gained it independence in 1962, ending a 132-year colonization. Algeria was considered as part of France rather than one of its colonies.
Together with Algeria, said the King, “we fought colonial rule for many years until independence was obtained. We know each other very well, and many Moroccan and Algerian families are united by the bonds of marriage and kinship.”
Morocco ready for ‘a direct and frank’ dialogue with Algeria
Speaking about the bilateral relations between Algeria and Morocco, the monarch admitted that they are “not normal, much less acceptable.”
For this reason, since he ascended the throne, King Mohammed VI strove to open the Morocco-Algeria borders and normalize the bilateral relations between the two countries based on “solid foundations of trust, solidarity and neighborliness.”
The King expressed his country’s readiness for “a direct and frank dialogue with Algeria “to settle the transient and objective differences impeding the development of relations between the two countries.”
He suggested to set up a joint political and mutually agreed upon mechanism for dialogue and consultation.
“The mission of this mechanism would be to analyze all pending issues in good faith and in a very frank, objective and honest way, using an open-ended agenda, without conditions or exceptions.”
The mechanism would also enhance bilateral coordination and consultation regarding counterterrorism and migration issue.
The monarch also emphasized that Morocco will consider any proposal or initiative by Algeria “to break the stalemate in the relations between the two neighbors and sister nations.”
Tense relations over borders
Morocco and Algeria relations have been strained for many years after several decades since the two countries gained independence.
In October 1963, Morocco and Algeria fought the Sand War over the border near Figuig, eastern Morocco. The war increased tensions between the two countries for several years, but ultimately ended with no territorial changes.
The war ended in February 1964 as a result of the mediation of third parties, mainly the US, the Arab League, and the Union of African Unity, who arranged a ceasefire.
In 1972, Morocco and Algeria delineated their borders. However, in the years since, Morocco-Algeria tensions have only increased, causing the border between the countries to be closed in 1994. The only period of time when the Moroccan-Algerian borders were opened was between 1988 and 1994.