Juan Carlos in Morocco to boost confidence-based relations
King Juan Carlos I of Spain started on Monday a four-day official visit to Morocco, the first in more than two years as his latest dates back to May 2011.
Beyond the exceptional historical personal relations binding the two sovereigns, the visit of King Juan Carlos holds much symbolic and political significance and is seen as a token of stability in the relationship between the two neighboring countries which are increasingly aware that their destinies are tightly bound and that they are part of an area of shared prosperity and that their mutual strategic interests will always prevail over any disagreements.
If the visit is meant to bolster political and diplomatic relations as translated by the presence in the king’s party of the Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo, and nine former Spanish ambassadors to Morocco from across the aisle, the prevailing economic crisis severely affecting the northern neighbor and not sparing the southern partner will put economic issues at the forefront of Moroccan-Spanish talks.
The crisis situation should actually prompt both parties to join efforts to make this difficult shift and take up the economic challenges facing the two of them.
Analysts say Spain is setting store by bolstering its economic relations with Morocco, which is enjoying stability in a geopolitical context in turmoil (Syria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia…) and by launching new partnership projects in the North African country.
In 2012, Spain became the largest trading partner of Morocco, surpassing for the first time France. Moroccan economic operators are however frustrated by the trade surplus Spain has been scoring for years to the detriment of Morocco. The deficit stood at over 1.7 billion euros in 2012.
Security issues will also be addressed by the Moroccan and Spanish officials, mainly the interior ministers, who will discuss the establishment of joint police stations on both sides of their borders and the possibility for the Moroccan Royal Mounted Police and the Guardia Civil to conduct joint patrols.
Spanish ambassador to Morocco, Alberto José Navarro, was quoted by the local media as saying that the main purpose of the visit of King Juan Carlos in Morocco is the creation of an area of shared prosperity.
He insisted however that this must necessarily go through the implementation of concrete actions enabling the two sides to work together and to build up more confidence.