Morocco and the UK “have gone through different stages in their history but they have always been continuous, constant and based on friendship and mutual respect.”
Rabat – In typically diplomatic comments after the signing of an “Association Agreement” between Rabat and London last Saturday, Morocco’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Nasser Bourita, said that the UK and Morocco are “historical partners” poised to nurture and maintain their “strategic” friendship, in spite of the sometimes challenging changes both countries witnessed in recent years.
The UK-Morocco relations “have gone through different stages in their history but they have always been continuous, constant and based on friendship and mutual respect,” Bourita told dozens of reporters in London minutes after the signing of a bilateral deal seeking “continuity” between the two nations after the UK effectively leaves the European Union.
The signing of the “Association Agreement,” Bourita stressed, is a testimony to the evolution and “the positive development” of the partnership between the two nations in various sectors.
“This positive development in bilateral relations stems from the Royal Vision, which consists of strengthening Morocco’s relations with historic partners, while opening up to new partners, both from and outside the European Union,” he explained.
According to the Moroccan official, some of the persisting challenges facing both countries on the domestic front, as well as their “shared visions” and goals on a wide range of global challenges—security and migration, among others—makes it particularly necessary to preserve and nourish the 800-year-old friendship between the two monarchies.
Bilateral trade between the UK and Morocco currently stands at MAD 18.3 billion, Bourita revealed. Morocco is the 7th destination of UK exports, and the two countries are working to further solidify that discernibly growing relationship. As far as Morocco is concerned, he elaborated, the “continuity” deal is part of King Mohammed VI’s “royal vision” and push for the “diversification of partnerships.”
But Bourita—or the Moroccan government, which he represents—is not alone in having great expectations about the prospects of the UK-Morocco friendship. Nor, too, was the Moroccan official alone in speaking this positively about the deal the two countries stuck on Saturday in London, or their centuries-old partnership.
In similar remarks after the signing of the agreement on Saturday, Thomas Reilly, the UK ambassador to Morocco, went even further than acknowledging the significance for the UK to maintain strong bilateral ties with Morocco even after Brexit finally comes into force.
In addition to lauding the potential of the relationship with Morocco, Reilly made what is set to be seen as positive and warm comments on a topic of utmost importance to Moroccan diplomacy: the territorial dispute in Western Sahara.
On the Western Sahara question, the British diplomat stressed, the UK is strongly committed to the UN-moderated political process. He said the UK believes that the way forward in the diplomatic standstill is a compromise-based and politically negotiated settlement, which is a large part of Morocco’s Western Sahara agenda since the country put together its Autonomy Proposal in 2007.
More still, however, Ambassador Reilly also spoke “approvingly” about Morocco’s autonomy proposal, as well as the North African country’s “efforts” in the disputed regions.
He called Morocco’s proposal, echoing a visibly prevailing sentiment in UN diplomatic circles, a “serious” and “credible” route towards a sustainable settlement in Western Sahara.