Morocco and France ready to make progress together

The first effects of the meetings between the diplomatic corps of France and Morocco are beginning to emerge after days of meetings in Rabat
PHOTO/FILE - El rey Mohamed VI en Rabat con el presidente francés, Emmanuel Macron
King Mohamed VI in Rabat with French President Emmanuel Macron - PHOTO/FILE
  1. Morocco and France determined for change

The industrial and infrastructure development of the Western Sahara region, the quest for recognition of the Sahara as Moroccan territory - with the conditions imposed by the United Nations (UN) in its resolution 2703 - and the joint progress of both countries in international relations and the search for agreements have been the result of the various meetings of French ministers and delegates with their Moroccan counterparts.  

El embajador francés en Rabat, Christophe Lecourtier, en un evento sobre las relaciones franco-marroquíes, organizada en la Facultad de Ciencias Jurídicas, Económicas y Sociales - PHOTO/FILE
The French Ambassador to Rabat, Christophe Lecourtier, at an event on Franco-Moroccan relations, organised at the Faculty of Law, Economics and Social Sciences - PHOTO/FILE

The meetings between the two countries began with the visit of the French Foreign Minister, Stéphane Séjourné, in February. With negotiations underway, various trips have been made by ministers such as the Minister of Foreign Trade, Frank Riester, the Minister of Agriculture, Marc Fesneau, the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, and the Minister of Culture, Rachida Dati. These ministers met with their Moroccan counterparts to make progress on agreements and improve relations. 

Relations have cooled in recent years due to several factors, including the rapprochement between Paris and Rabat's regional rival Algeria and the desire for more tangible French involvement in Rabat's proposed autonomy plan as a solution to the Western Sahara conflict.

Soldado francés abandonando la región del Maghreb, tras el anuncio de Emmanuel Macron - PHOTO/REUTERS
French soldier leaving the Maghreb region, following the announcement by Emmanuel Macron, President of France - PHOTO/REUTERS

France's problems with African countries have increased in recent years. French President Emmanuel Macron's announcement to withdraw troops and military support in many African countries was the trigger. While Morocco had no problem with France's departure, the North African country disagreed with Paris when in 2021 it was decided to drastically reduce the number of Moroccan visas on the pretext that they were 'not cooperating enough'. 

France continues to lack clarity between the position of Morocco and Algeria, its main rival in the Maghreb, which is in line with the positions of the Polisario Front. The Sahrawi position seen from the Polisario Front's point of view, as several experts have pointed out, has much less international support than the Moroccan position, which is supported by countries such as the United States, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Germany and Spain. 

El ministro de Asuntos Exteriores de Marruecos, Nasser Bourita (R), recibe a su homóloga alemana, Annalena Baerbock, en la capital, Rabat, el 25 de agosto de 2022 - AFP/FADEL SENNA 
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita (R) receives his German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock, in the capital, Rabat, 25 August 2022 - AFP/FADEL SENNA 

Morocco and France determined for change

The French Foreign Minister underlined the uniqueness of relations between France and Morocco and stressed the importance of their relationship. The plan seeks to capitalise on historical relations and accumulated achievements and to build a solid foundation for future cooperation. The aim of this delegation, led by the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, and the Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire, was to promote dialogue and cooperation. 

There are dozens of examples of rapprochement between the two regions. Paris requested the support of Abdellatif Hammouchi, head of Morocco's police and intelligence services, to ensure security during the Paris 2024 Olympic Games; to reduce early school leaving, Paris and Rabat reached a 134.7 million euro agreement that will improve learning in general, as a result of their joint focus on education and human capital development in the 2022-2026 Roadmap of the Ministry of National Education, Pre-school Education and Sport in Morocco. 

Abdellatif Hammouchi - PHOTO/FILE
Abdellatif Hammouchi, head of the Moroccan police and intelligence services - PHOTO/FILE

The visit covered key areas of mutual interest, including economic, cultural and political interaction, according to sources familiar with the matter. The itinerary included attendance at events such as the Meknes International Agricultural Exhibition, which highlights the importance of agricultural cooperation between the two countries. Discussions during the visit focused on strengthening trade ties, with France being the largest investor and most important trading partner in Africa. 

The key to improvement is dialogue. Discussions on education, security, sports, trade and institutional matters are together forging the basis for fruitful relations in the short and long term.