The intensification of contacts between Paris and Rabat are moving in the same direction. In search of a diplomatic improvement, the Parisian parliamentarians are determined to turn the page, ease the acrimony and find a solution for the restoration of bilateral relations with the Kingdom of Morocco. For political differences to be resolved with sovereign dimensions, Rabat requires more than symbolic speeches, protocol and official visits.
Despite French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna's visit to Morocco's capital, Rabat, in December in an effort to resolve contentious issues that had damaged ties between the two nations, Moroccan-French relations have recently reached an all-time low at all levels. Speaking to the French magazine Jeune Afrique, a Moroccan diplomat, who wished to remain anonymous, confirmed that relations 'are neither friendly nor good, neither between the two governments, nor between the Royal Palace and the Elysée'.
Two French delegations have visited the Alawi state in 2023. The first one in April, made by Eric Ciotti, head of the Les Républicains party, put on the table the idea of improving the quality of relations and the relaunching of joint projects. In the second visit, which ended two days ago, French parliamentarians reiterated Paris' commitment to restoring relations with one of its most important economic and social partners.
The need to move French-Moroccan relations forward and overcome recent tensions was raised during the meeting between the French Senate delegation and Nizar Baraka, Secretary General of the Istiqlal Party and Minister of Equipment and Water, Abdellatif Wehbi, Secretary General of the Authenticity Party of Modernity (PAM) and Minister of Justice. One issue raised was the issue of visa restrictions, which have disproportionately affected Moroccans living abroad.
Speaking to the press, the leader of the delegation and chairman of the French Senate's Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces Committee, Christian Cambon, expressed the hope that "this friendly Franco-Moroccan visit will be an opportunity to reaffirm the deep, eternal and solid friendship between France and Morocco". There are times when our government may face minor problems, but the role of our Parliamentary Assembly is to intervene and make an effort to solve those problems, he said.
For his part, Mohamed Zidouh, leader of the Franco-Moroccan friendship group, stressed "the importance of the visit of the French parliamentary delegation to give a new impetus to bilateral relations and reinforce the method of joint dialogue to consolidate more confidence", affirming that "Morocco has become a centre of stability in the Sahel region and the Sahara in general".
The actions of official and unofficial bodies in France to contain the Franco-Moroccan crisis, according to Hicham Moataad, a Moroccan expert in international relations, are linked to the adoption of a political stance towards the French state and not just public relations. Speaking to Al-Arab, he continued: "Despite encouraging steps, Rabat needs more than symbolic speeches, protocol and official visits to resolve political differences of sovereign dimensions".
He emphasised to Al-Arab that "the French presidency is still resisting Morocco's demand on the need to get out of the grey zone and be politically clear in its dealings with the Kingdom on a number of important files, the main one being the Sahara file, and to stay away from the policy of pressure against Rabat to compromise its principled position".
Following developments, especially the important Moroccan investments that have been made for the economic development of the region, the head of the French delegation, Christian Cambon, expressed the hope that "France will go a little further in its support for Morocco's autonomy plan in Western Sahara", adding that "France has always stood by Morocco in the United Nations, and that it will be able, when the time comes, to take the necessary decisions".