Morocco: Ankara Backs Morocco’s Return to AU

Turkey, via its ambassador to Rabat, joined the queue of countries hailing the return of Morocco in the African Union (AU) announced by King Mohammed VI in a message to the 27th AU summit held in Kigali, Rwanda, last month.

Ethen Barkan, speaking at a press conference in Rabat on Monday, said Morocco’s presence in the AU is important for Ankara and will be a boon for the African continent. The ambassador said Ankara has long awaited the move announced by King Mohammed IV in a strong worded message to the organization on July 17.

“Morocco is important owing to the richness of its history, its culture and its economy. It is unimaginable to think of Africa without Morocco that is important and occupies a special place,” Barkan said.

“It is a country with special political reference and a strong economy,” he added.

Ankara joins the chorus of countries, including the U.S. and France, which have backed Morocco’s intention to join the black continent organisation.

Morocco, a founding member of the AU predecessor, the Organization of African Unity (OUA,) walked out of the organization in 1984 in protest against the admission of the pseudo Sahrawi Republic, self-proclaimed by the Polisario with Algeria’s support.

The Turkish diplomat also tackled the current political crisis taking place in his country in the aftermath of the failed military coup allegedly formatted by U.S.-based Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen; known as a staunch opponent of Turkish authoritarian president Erdogan.

To the question whether Morocco houses schools sponsored by the Turkish cleric, Barkan indicated that Rabat does not need to receive a list of these schools. Moroccan intelligence services, which are efficient and enjoy a global recognition, cannot ignore the presence of such schools, he said.

Barkan stopped short of mentioning the number of Gulen-sponsored schools in Morocco, but he underrated the cleric’s influence in the kingdom.

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