Head of Government, Saad Eddine El Othmani, expresses hopes for the Moroccan border with Algeria to be reopened.
The minister told Maghreb Arab Press (MAP) that El Othmani did not make any official statement on Algeria, but rather expressed Morocco’s hopes to see the borders between the two countries reopened again.
El Khalfi said that El Othmani made his remarks during a “private” discussion during an iftar (fast-breaking).
El Khalfi’s statement comes after a news report from Anadolu Agency quoted El Othmani saying that Algeria’s former regime “was very hostile to Morocco.”
Anadolu Agency reported on Thursday, that El Othmani allegedly expressed “hope” that Algeria’s rulers “won’t follow the former regime’s policy of fierce competition with Morocco.”
El Othmani allegedly told reporters that the diplomatic ties between Morocco and Algeria “can’t be worse than they were under Bouteflika.”
The Moroccan government, however, denied that El Othmani made any official comments on Morocco’s political relationship with their eastern neighbor.
The government has made it clear that Morocco is interested in reopening the borders with Algeria.
Algeria closed the border with Morocco in 1994. The country made the decision after Rabat imposed visa regulations on Algerian citizens, following a terrorist attack on the Atlas Asni Hotel in Marrakech.
Morocco’s initiatives to reopen the border with Algeria were strengthened in November 2018, when King Mohammed VI called for talks between Rabat and Algiers to break the stalemate between the two countries.
On the 43rd anniversary of the Green March, the King stated that the lack of unity between the Maghreb countries is “an unreasonable situation” which contradicts “the brotherly bonds uniting” peoples of Morocco and Algeria.
Talking about the hostile relations between Algeria and Morocco, the monarch admitted that they are “not normal, much less acceptable.”
Algeria has been holding a hostile position regarding Morocco’s territorial integrity, and has long supported the Polisario Front.
A Policy of Non-interference
In recent years, Morocco has been urging the Algerian government to shoulder its responsibility as a main party in the conflict.
Earlier this year, Morocco’s Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations, Omar Hilale, accused Algeria of creating the front, giving it “practically an extra sovereign territory in the Tindouf camps – the only camps in the world that are managed by a non-state entity.”
Despite the tension, Morocco’s government has refused to make known its position on the Algerian protests before and after the resignation of Bouteflika.
Asked about Morocco’s position at a previous press conference earlier in May, El Khalfi told reporters: “Regarding questions about Algeria’s protests, I will answer you with this sentence: I will not answer this question.”
In March, Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita, said that Morocco maintains a “non-interference” position with regard to the mass demonstrations in Algeria.
Bourita said that Morocco will “neither meddle with the internal developments that Algeria witnesses nor comment on them,” according to AFP.
Morocco’s policy respects the states’ sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the principle of non-interference in domestic affairs.