This is a fundamental step towards the resumption of relations between Rabat and Berlin

Germany backs Moroccan autonomy plan for the Sahara

photo_camera PHOTO/FILE - The Bundestag, Germany's federal parliament

There has been a shift in German foreign policy regarding relations with Morocco. The new German government, led by Olaf Scholz, has expressed its interest in resuming and improving diplomatic ties with the Kingdom. It also supports Morocco's Sahara project, an issue that caused a rift between the two countries in March.

The German foreign ministry sees Morocco's proposal for the Sahara as key to resolving the conflict in the region. This was announced by Annelena Baerbock's ministry in a press release, in which it also showed its support for the UN Secretary General's personal envoy for Western Sahara, Staffan de Mistura, appointed last November. It adds that Germany supports de Mistura in "the search for a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution on the basis of Security Council resolution 2602". "Morocco made an important contribution to this agreement in 2007 with an autonomy plan," it adds.

Berlin has recently sent reconciliatory messages to Morocco. Most recently, in early December, the embassy declared that it was "ready to establish a future partnership with the Kingdom". Subsequently, Germany announced that it was preparing an imminent declaration on its relations with Morocco after the embassy expressed its desire to resume "good and traditionally broad diplomatic relations"

PHOTO/BERND VON JUTRCZENKA  -   Olaf Scholz

This is a major step forward in improving relations between Rabat and Berlin. In March, Morocco decided to suspend all contacts with the German government due to "profound misunderstandings" over the Sahara issue. Subsequently, on 6 May, Morocco summoned its ambassador to Berlin in response to "hostile acts" after German authorities questioned Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.

Germany, during this diplomatic crisis, also tried to exclude Morocco from the peace process for Libya, as reported by Le360. Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, in this regard, pointed out that "there is no solution in Berlin for a North African problem." "North Africa has its own context and its own dynamics. Morocco knows these dynamics and that is why its contribution is first and foremost to support the Libyans," he added, recalling Morocco's key role in the Libyan conflict.

However, this change in German policy opens the door to conciliation between Rabat and Berlin. The German ministry's endorsement of Morocco's plan for the Sahara is an important step towards improving relations, since for Morocco the Saharawi question "is at the top of the priorities of Moroccan diplomacy", as Bourita reaffirmed in a report presented to the Chamber of Councillors. As for ties with Germany, he said they should be based on "clarity and reciprocity".  

AFP/ FADEL SENNA  -   El ministro de Asuntos Exteriores de Marruecos, Nasser Bourita
Germany praises Morocco's reforms and engagement in the Libyan peace process

"The Kingdom of Morocco is an important bridge between North and South, politically, culturally and economically; the country is a key partner of the European Union and Germany in North Africa. Germany and Morocco have maintained diplomatic relations since 1956," the press release begins. The German ministry praises the "radical reforms" promoted by Morocco over the last decade. "The country plays an important role in the stability and sustainable development of the region. This is evident, in particular, in its diplomatic engagement in the Libyan peace process," the note notes.

Regarding economic and trade relations, the ministry stresses that Germany ranks seventh in the Moroccan trade balance. "In 2019, Germany imported goods from Morocco worth 鈧1.4 billion, while products worth 鈧2.2 billion were exported," it stresses. Moreover, almost 300 companies have German equity stakes in Morocco, while the Kingdom is a popular tourist destination among German citizens. "German-Moroccan development cooperation focuses on the areas of employment and sustainable economic development, renewable energies and water management," the ministry adds.

The communiqu茅 referred to German donations to the Kingdom "on its path of modernisation" and in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. It also emphasised "scientific and German language cooperation". The Ministry explains that the Goethe-Institut has branches in Casablanca and Rabat, as well as representations in Tangier and Oujda. In addition, there are partner schools and more than 20 partnerships in the university sector. Teachers from the German university exchange service teach in Rabat and Meknes: "The Federal Foreign Office also promotes cultural preservation in Morocco," the communiqu茅 stresses.