Less than a week before he hands over the keys of the Elysée Palace, French President François Hollande hosted Tuesday a luncheon in honor of King Mohammed VI of Morocco.
The luncheon at this particular juncture is deemed a powerful token of the long-standing friendship and the multifaceted ties binding the two countries.
The luncheon was preceded by talks between the two leaders, who underlined the special character of French-Moroccan relationship and their shared feelings of esteem and respect, which, they said, underpin the renewal of French-Moroccan partnerships in security, sustainable development, culture, and education.
The two heads of State voiced confidence regarding the future of Moroccan-French partnership, a partnership that is of strategic importance for both sides, in terms of bilateral relations, as well as in terms of Euro-Mediterranean and African development, said the Royal office in a statement.
President François Hollande congratulated King Mohammed VI on his country’s return to the African Union and welcomed Morocco’s strong initiatives towards the development of the continent, the statement said.
The Monarch, on his part, expressed thanks to the French president for his personal commitment to strengthen French-Moroccan friendship and renewed Morocco’s resolve to boost further the two countries’ special relations, the statement added.
During the tenure of President François Hollande, who decided not to run for a second term, relations between Paris and Rabat were marked by serenity and an enhanced cooperation, primarily at the security level.
Actually, bilateral cooperation in security, intelligence sharing and counterterrorism was strengthened, especially after the Paris attacks of November 2015, and the breakthrough made by Moroccan intelligence services, which helped the French police locate the hideout of the terrorists responsible for the deadly attacks that killed 130 people.
Moroccan services also helped French authorities to counter terror threats when the country hosted the Euro 2016 soccer tournament in June, and helped foil many terrorist plots targeting the European country.
France and Morocco also cooperated closely in combating climate change as they hosted respectively the climate Summits COP21 and COP22. In this vein, the two countries joined efforts to raise funds to help developing countries achieve the climate goals of the COP22, to integrate renewable energies in development policies, and to facilitate dialogue with Europe, Africa and the Mediterranean with a view to adding momentum to efforts to address climate challenges.
The Tuesday meeting between King Mohammed VI and President Hollande and the luncheon that followed mirror the strength of bilateral relations that transcend political agendas and governmental alternations.
The fact that the luncheon was attended by several Moroccan and French personalities, including cabinet members, writers, intellectuals, artists, athletes, and civil society activists symbolizes, if need be, the strong, multi-dimensional ties binding the two countries
The fact that the encounter took place just days before the French presidential election, which will bring to the helm of the State on Sunday, May 7, centrist Emmanuel Macron or far rightist Marine Le Pen, illustrates the perennial nature of the exceptional partnership between Morocco and France.
President of the Arab World Institute Jack Lang, who took part in the luncheon, told the media the meeting between the Sovereign and President Hollande is the expression of the “deep affection” between the two countries and the “very strong friendship” between the two Heads of State.
Jack Lang described the meeting as “a moving moment of generosity and kindness”.
Although the meeting took place at the very last days of President Hollande’s tenure, it was not a farewell meeting, but an au revoir, till Moroccan and French leaders meet again, given the continuity of the exceptional relationship binding the two countries, regardless of the political orientation of the tenant of the Elysée Palace.
And Emmanuel Macron who is entering the second round of voting as a clear favourite over his rival, Marine Le Pen, according to polls, had promised to pay an official visit to Morocco in case of victory. It thus seems that the French-Moroccan partners will still take ample advantage of their honeymoon, and this for decades to come.