Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Arancha Gonzalez Laya described bilateral relations between Morocco and Spain as “solid” and “mature” on Wednesday, January 27.
“The good relations between the two countries are close, deep and solid,” Laya said at the Nueva Economia Forum (New Economy Forum).
The Spanish FM talked extensively about the foreign policy of Spain and took the opportunity to speak highly of the country’s bilateral relations with Morocco.
“The level of maturity that bilateral relations have reached allows us to have dialogue in a frank manner and avoid any possible misunderstanding,” Laya said.
The top Spanish diplomat also expressed her hope for Morocco-Spain relations to further improve, especially after the upcoming Moroccan-Spanish High-Level Meeting, scheduled for February 2021.
“Spain and Morocco are two partners with a common desire to further strengthen their relations in all areas,” she concluded.
Laya made the statement one day after the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs published its 2021-2024 Strategy for External Action.
The 100-page document qualified relations with Morocco as a priority for Spain’s foreign policy, recommending a stronger dialogue and cooperation between the two countries.
“In the case of Morocco, our great southern neighbor and indispensable partner, the common will of our Governments is to continue enhancing the excellent bilateral relations and extend them into new areas,” the document stated.
Laya’s statement comes as part of Spain’s non-confrontational discourse with Morocco in recent weeks, despite rumors about lingering tensions.
The rumors first arose after the postponement of the Moroccan-Spanish High-Level Meeting from December 2020 to February 2021.
While the officially-announced reason for the rescheduling was the COVID-19 pandemic, experts argued that the deferral was due to a tweet where Spanish Vice-President for Social Rights, Pablo Iglesias, challenged Morocco’s territorial integrity.
Adding fuel to the fire was the decision of Spanish Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Cristina Gallach to summon the Moroccan Ambassador to Madrid, Karima Benyaich.
Gallach summoned Benyaich after the Moroccan Head of Government, Saad Eddine El Othmani, stated that Morocco should begin discussing the situation of Ceuta and Melilla, the two Spanish-controlled enclaves situated in northern Morocco.
Gallach’s reaction, which many experts considered to be unnecessary, intensified the rumors about tension between Morocco and Spain.
Ever since, Spanish officials have never missed an opportunity to speak highly of their relations with Morocco.
On January 14, Spanish Minister of the Interior Fernando Grande Marlaska described Morocco as “a strategic partner,” without making any reference to the rumors about tension.
A few days later, on January 18, Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, qualified Morocco as a “partner of utmost importance.”
The friendly tone that has marked official Spanish statements about Morocco in recent weeks might be an indicator that Spain has realized it has more to lose than to gain from frictions with Morocco.