Skip to main content

French and Moroccan diplomacy signals renewed partnership in Rabat talks

2 min

The French and Moroccan foreign ministers strongly signaled their intent to turn the page on recent diplomatic crises and establish a renewed "exceptional" partnership based on "mutual respect" during talks in Rabat on Monday.

Stéphane Séjourné (L) and Nasser Bourita in Rabat 

The French and Moroccan foreign ministers strongly signaled their intent to turn the page on recent diplomatic crises and establish a renewed "exceptional" partnership based on "mutual respect" during talks in Rabat on Monday.

Stéphane Séjourné emphasized his choice of Morocco for his first official visit to the Maghreb region since taking office just over a month ago.

"There is an exceptional bond between France and Morocco, and President Emmanuel Macron wants this bond to remain unique and deepen further in the coming months," stated the new French Foreign Minister during a joint press conference.

His Moroccan counterpart echoed similar sentiments, noting that the bilateral relationship is unparalleled.

To begin this new chapter, Stéphane Séjourné and Nasser Bourita engaged in extensive discussions on the thorny issue of the Western Sahara.

The French minister reiterated Paris's "clear and consistent" support for the Moroccan autonomy plan while expressing a desire to "make progress" on the issue.

"This is an existential issue for Morocco. We are aware of it," emphasized Mr. Séjourné. "We have said it before, and I reiterate it today, perhaps with even greater force: it is now time to move forward. I will personally ensure it."

The Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, is de facto controlled mainly by Morocco but claimed by the Sahrawi independence movement Polisario Front, supported by Algeria. The UN considers it a "non-self-governing territory."

Encouraged by the Trump administration's recognition of its sovereignty over the territory in late 2020, Morocco has since pursued an assertive diplomacy to garner support for its positions.

France intends to support the territory's development "in support of Moroccan efforts."

"Morocco has invested significantly in development projects benefiting local populations and in areas such as training, renewable energy, tourism, and the blue economy related to aquatic resources," explained Mr. Séjourné.

Recent years have been marked by extremely tense moments between Morocco and France, the former colonial power where a significant Moroccan diaspora resides.

In Rabat, France's decision in September 2021 to halve visas for Moroccans was particularly criticized.

On the French side, there was little appreciation for revelations by the Forbidden Stories media consortium suggesting that the phones of Emmanuel Macron and ministers had been targeted in 2019 by Morocco, a user of the Israeli spyware Pegasus, which Rabat denied.

A vote by the European Parliament in January 2023 condemning the deterioration of press freedom in Morocco added to the tensions.

Mr. Séjourné announced the goal of "building the framework for the partnership that will unite" the two countries "for the next 30 years."

Nasser Bourita argued that his country, as a regional power, presented opportunities for France, particularly for "working in partnership" in the Sahel.

"The Franco-Moroccan relationship must be renewed and developed based on the principles of mutual respect, ambition, and coordination," he said, praising "a moment of renewal."

Among the sources of tension, Macron's desired rapprochement with Algeria had particularly irked Moroccans.

Despite gestures toward Rabat, Paris does not intend to slacken efforts with Algiers. The Secretary-General of the French Foreign Ministry, Anne-Marie Descôtes, is set to meet her Algerian counterpart in the capital, along with the Foreign Minister, on Tuesday.

Related

Libya

Libya's road to peace: A distant journey

In a disheartening development for Libya, the much-anticipated national reconciliation conference, scheduled for April 28 in Sirte, has been indefinitely postponed.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Mena banner 4

To make this website run properly and to improve your experience, we use cookies. For more detailed information, please check our Cookie Policy.

  • Necessary cookies enable core functionality. The website cannot function properly without these cookies, and can only be disabled by changing your browser preferences.