Morocco and the Visegrád group build their relationship on a solid foundation of trust, said Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Abroad, Nasser Bourita.
“Through our bilateral relations with the four Visegrád countries [Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia], we know that we have a solid foundation of trust that offers us the opportunity to move up a notch in our relationship and have this V4+Morocco format,” said Bourita.
Bourita was speaking on the Hungarian television channel Hir Tv, about the first V4+Morocco ministerial meeting of the Visegrád Group, held on 06 and 07 December in Budapest.
The Minister noted that the meeting of Morocco with this intergovernmental organization, which includes four Central European countries, comes in a difficult global context that pushes all countries to seek reliable partners.
With the Visegrád group, “we face security challenges, in addition to the many challenges imposed by the pandemic,” continued the Minister, stressing that it is imperative not to forget “the opportunities available to us, especially in terms of economic development.”
This meeting therefore offers “the right opportunity to use our achievements on the bilateral level to discover the new opportunities that this format offers,” he said, adding that, in this regard, “the neighborhood, nowadays, is no longer an important asset. What counts is a partner’s trust and reliability.”
On his meeting with the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Péter Szijjártó, Bourita noted that the objective was to capitalize on the excellent relations between the two countries to build a “real” bilateral partnership.
During the last five years, the two countries have signed more agreements than in previous decades,” he recalled, adding that this meeting was an opportunity to review the implementation of these agreements and the examination of ways to enrich the partnership between the two countries.
With Szijjártó, “we decided to strengthen the economic dimension of our bilateral partnership and exchange best practices in the management of the COVID-19 crisis,” said Bourita, noting that Morocco is the third economic partner of Hungary in Africa. “Means of joint contributions to peace, stability and development in Africa were also discussed.”
On the issue of migration, Bourita said that Morocco has always been a reliable partner of the European Union (EU), with a clear and shared vision on the subject.
“Migration is a natural and often beneficial phenomenon. The problem only arises when human trafficking networks come into play,” the minister noted, adding that the migrant is often the first victim of these networks.
“If the EU has always been quiet on the side of its southern shore, it is because Morocco is doing a tremendous job,” Bourita stressed.
In 2014 and 2015 when there were huge migratory flows arriving on the eastern side of Europe, nobody asked what was happening in the West and why the trafficking networks did not use this route, yet very close to Europe, he noted, highlighting the role of Morocco which “invested in the protection of its territory and that of its partners”.
“We have nearly 8,000 members of our security forces mobilized daily to secure the Mediterranean coasts,” he said, adding that Morocco is ready to strengthen its partnership with the EU, but keeping in mind that migration is a shared responsibility and not only that of the countries of origin or transit.
Traffickers are certainly in the countries of origin and transit, but they also have relays in the countries of destination that help them achieve their goal, said the minister, calling for combined efforts to stop these networks.
We need an inclusive approach to migration, especially through development and by giving hope to African youth,” said Bourita.
Asked about the issue of the Moroccan Sahara, Bourita recalled that this territory has always been Moroccan and it will remain so.
“The Sahara has always been an integral part of Morocco until the Spanish occupation,” he said, adding that in 1975 Morocco and Spain negotiated an agreement that allowed the Kingdom to recover its Sahara.
In the current circumstances, the world needs strong states that are capable of defending their identity and territorial integrity, he stressed, inviting Hungarians to come and see for themselves “the calm, beauty and attractiveness of the Moroccan Sahara and the whole Kingdom.”
Regarding terrorism, Bourita said that thanks to the vision of HM King Mohammed VI, Morocco has put in place since 2003 a multidimensional fight against this scourge.
“We can not reduce the subject to the security dimension,” he explained, adding that Morocco has launched a reform of the religious field “to fight against obscurantist ideas first, before fighting against their implementation.”
The Kingdom has focused on human development to fight against vulnerabilities used by terrorist groups to attract followers, he explained. “Then comes the security dimension and the work of Moroccan intelligence who collaborate with their counterparts in other countries to counter radicalism and terrorism,” he said.
On the African dimension of Morocco, Bourita noted that the Kingdom, under the leadership of HM King Mohammed VI, has implemented a real policy of co-development benefiting the continent taking into account its wealth, opportunities and assets.
In 2050, Africa will have two and a half billion inhabitants, said the minister, noting that “either we invest in the continent to make it an opportunity for all, or we neglect it to make of it a burden.”
“We must believe in Africa and accompany Africans,” he said, recalling that the Sovereign has made 51 visits to the African continent and has launched major investments.
The best way is to go to Africa, to understand its realities and try to accompany these realities,” advocated the Moroccan minister, calling for a triangular cooperation between Hungary, or even the Visegrád group, Morocco and Africa.