This makes Morocco the first Arab or African country to occupy this status among the Andean Community of Nations (CAN).
Rabat – The Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that Morocco secured the status of observer state at the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) of Latin America.
The appointment took place during the 20th meeting of the Andean Presidential Council on June 8 in the Colombian capital of Bogota.
This makes Morocco the first Arab or African country to occupy this status with the CAN.
The status strengthens Morocco’s position as a “privileged interlocutor in the Latin American region,” affirming its position as a credible partner on the international level.
The ministry emphasized the role that this membership will play in furthering relations between Morocco and the trade bloc and in reinforcing the openness policy that King Mohammed VI advocates.
“Our country has observer status in nine regional organizations: four of a parliamentary nature (Parlacen, Foprel, Parlandino, Parlatino), four of a political nature (SICA, OEA, SEGIB, AEC) and the predominantly economic Alliance of the Pacific,” added the same source.
The ministry also highlighted the common cultural and and historical values and linguistic influence that Morocco shares with the Andean countries.
CAN was founded in 1997, and operates as a regional trade group. Its member states include the countries of Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, and Ecuador. Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Chile are associate member states.
Morocco had first requested the status of observer at the Andean community on December 9, 2011, making it the second country, after Spain, to request this status.
The 2011 request came with the same objective, of strengthening ties with South American countries, part of South-South cooperation efforts, according to CAN.
The request was presented by the former Moroccan ambassador to Peru, Oumama Aouad Lahrech, who reinforced it by stating that “Morocco is the most important Spanish-speaking country in the Arab world. We have 6 million people who speak Spanish fluently.”
Secretary General of CAN Adalid Contreras welcomed the request, saying he was pleased with the interest of an African country in belonging to the CAN. He stressed that Morocco would be an important benchmark for South-South cooperation, building bridges with the African continent.
CAN countries and Western Sahara
Several Latin American countries have increasingly been expressing their support, on various official occasions, for Morocco’s territorial integrity in its sovereignty over Western Sahara.
During an official visit to Morocco on February 12, the speaker of the Latin American Parliament, Jorge Pizarro Estéban Soto, expressed his support for the UN-led political process in Western Sahara in a meeting with Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita.
In 2018, the Colombian Congress adopted a motion in favor of Morocco’s autonomy plan, labeling it as a pragmatic and fair solution to end the territorial dispute in the region.
The Autonomy Plan dates back to 2007, when Morocco submitted it to the UN Security Council. It seeks to grant the populating living in Western Sahara complete autonomy, on the condition that they remain under Morocco’s sovereignty.
On August 23, 2019, in a meeting between the Moroccan Ambassador to Peru, Amin Chaoudri, and the speaker of the Peruvian Congress, Pedro Olaechea, in the Peruvian capital of Lima, the speaker saluted the UN-led political process. He praised the Moroccan Autonomy Plan as a mutually acceptable solution to the political impasse in the Western Sahara case.
The Bolivian government decided on January 20 to suspend its ties with the self-styled Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), expressing its support for the efforts of the UN in reaching a lasting and mutually acceptable political solution in accordance with UN principles. The move came as a blow for Polisario, as Bolivia had long been seen as its traditional ally in Latin America.
Ecuador joined the growing list of countries supporting the UN-led process in September 2019 when Bourita held talks with Ecuadorian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Andres Teran. The Ecuadorian official told the press that his country recognizes the Moroccan efforts to forge ahead with the UN-led process.