Earlier this month, Pedro Sanchez emphasized the importance of Morocco as a strategic partner for Spain.
Rabat – Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Arancha Gonzalez Laya has presented Spain’s External Action Strategy that recommends strengthening dialogue and cooperation with partner countries, including Morocco.
Laya presented the strategy to the Spanish Council of Ministers on Tuesday this week, underlining the need to consolidate dialogue with countries in North Africa, especially Morocco.
The 100-page document calls for the organization of regular political consultations with Morocco and the holding of high-level meetings.
The strategy also emphasizes the importance of “specific cooperation plans” with Morocco in “areas of common interest.”
“In the case of Morocco, our great southern neighbour and indispensable partner, the common will of our Governments is to continue enhancing the excellent bilateral relations and extend them into new arenas,” the document reads.
The document also emphasized the importance of the Morocco-Spain partnership, with Madrid seeking to expand cooperation in other areas, including parliamentary and entrepreneurial sectors.
The plan also seeks to strengthen cooperation against irregular migration.
“On migration matters, the plan is to continue to implement a comprehensive policy both in bilateral and regional contexts such as the Rabat Process, and support Morocco in its enforcement of new migration and human rights policy.”
The Spanish minister said it will present the strategy to both chambers of the Spanish parliament.
Under the strategy, the Spanish government seeks to work to strengthen cooperation with sub-Saharan countries to support their economic and social development.
Spanish officials frequently express satisfaction with Morocco.
Earlier this month, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who has long advocated for furthering the “strategic” and “special” relationship between Rabat and Madrd, reaffirmed that Morocco is an essential partner for Spain.
“Such countries are fundamental to our interests,” Sanchez said of Morocco.
He also expressed hope to see the pandemic end soon for the Moroccan-Spanish high-level meeting to take place.
The meeting was initially scheduled for December 17, 2020, but it was postponed to February 2021.
The Spanish government said the decision was due to COVID-19 crisis.
In recent months, observers questioned the official discourse about the postponement. Most analysts attributed the schedule change to a perceptible diplomatic crisis between Morocco and Spain.
In December, Morocco’s Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani suggested in an interview that Morocco and Spain should start discussing the situation of the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.
“Ceuta and Melilla are among the points on which it is necessary to open discussion,” El Othmani said.
El Othmani’s remarks angered the Spanish government, who summoned Morocco’s ambassador to Spain Karima Benyaich.
During the meeting, Benyaich calmed tensions but reaffirmed Morocco’s unchanged position regarding Ceuta and Melilla, which the North African country considers as occupied territories.
She assured, however, that El Othmani’s remarks do not mean that Morocco will seek to bring the topic to the center of bilateral cooperation discussions between Spain and Morocco.
Spain’s Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska angered the Spanish press last week when he called Morocco a strategic partner.
The Spanish official did not comment on El Othmani’s recent remarks on Ceuta and Melila, leaving many Spanish media outlets frustrated at the absence of a direct and forceful response from the Sanchez government.