Spain’s socialist prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, will meet today with King Mohammed VI and Moroccan Head of Government Saadeddine El Othmani.
Mohammedia – Speaking over the weekend at the 26th Ibero-American summit in Guatemala, Sanchez announced his intent to visit Morocco, months after his first planned visit to Rabat was reported.
Weeks after his election as prime minister in June, Sanchez requested a meeting with Moroccan counterpart El Othmani and a “special audience” with King Mohammed VI. But the Moroccan King was on a trip abroad at the time.
Of today’s visit, Sanchez told journalists the date was also his request, signaling the importance Madrid accords to the “historical ties” and the “strategic bilateral relations” it enjoys with its North African neighbor.
At the Guatemala summit, Sanchez spoke of his Moroccan visit as an important step towards rekindling the two nations’ partnership on “common challenges.” Asked why he had made the first step, Sanchez replied: “I made the request, full stop. That’s all I can say for now.”
Later on Sunday, however, a statement from the prime minister’s office gave more details about the visit.
“Head of government Pedro Sanchez will thank his Moroccan counterpart Saaddedine El Othmani and King Mohammed VI for their country’s efforts in fighting against irregular migration,” Spanish newspaper EFE quoted the Spanish government’s statement.
Also important to Sanchez’s trip to Morocco is the Spanish leader’s desire to “personally reiterate his country’s unwavering commitment” to the partnership with Morocco, EFE reported.
Spain Morocco’s ‘foremost EU’ Ally
While signifying his attachment to the strategic partnership with Rabat and his acknowledgement of the “great job” Morocco has performed to limit the success of irregular migrants’ attempts to cross to Spain, EFE explained, “Sanchez will also guarantee Morocco that Spain will remain its foremost ally in the EU.”
Since his election on June 2, Sanchez has established himself as perhaps the most vocal pro-Moroccan voice in the European club.
When many in the EU reportedly had doubts and mixed feelings about the EU-Morocco cooperation on migration, Sanchez lobbied for more EU funds to “technically and logistically” assist Rabat’s “enormous efforts” in securing Europe’s external borders.
Similarly, as the Morocco-EU fisheries agreement seemed on the verge of collapse over apparently irreconcilable differences between Rabat and Brussels (with Brussels declining to increase Rabat’s financial benefits off the deal), Madrid made it its calling to explain to other EU member states how critical it is for the European body to maintain and nurture alliance with Rabat.
“Morocco is a crucial Spanish ally on many issues, including security, immigration, and economic cooperation,” Sanchez has said of his insistence on travelling to Morocco. His visit to Rabat, he added, will be “very important.”