It would be ‘illusory and disrespectful’ to believe ‘we can build future’ together without clarifying France’s position on Sahara Issue – French Amb. to Rabat

It would be ‘illusory and disrespectful’ to believe ‘we can build future’ together without clarifying France’s position on Sahara Issue – French Amb. to Rabat

France’s ambassador to Morocco, Christophe Lecourtier, said on Friday in Casablanca that it would be “illusory and disrespectful” to believe that “we could build” a future together with Morocco without clarifying France’s position on the Sahara issue.

The French ambassador’s remarks were made during a conference-debate on French-Moroccan relations at the Ain Chock College of Legal, Economic and Social Sciences, organized by the Links Foundation, chaired by former minister and Moroccan ambassador to France Mohamed Berrada.

“It would be totally illusory, disrespectful and stupid to consider that we are going to build what I hope we will manage to build, brick by brick, for the happiness of our two nations and a few other neighbors, without clarifying this issue, which everyone in Paris knows and recognizes as essential for the Kingdom, yesterday, today and tomorrow,” stressed Lecourtier in response to a question on France’s position on the Sahara issue.

“How can we claim to have these ambitions without taking into account the Kingdom’s major concerns on the issue?” wondered Lecourtier.

“France is aware of the importance of this issue for Morocco. It is aware of how the world is evolving,” he added, noting that “in the dialogue we have with Morocco, this question, as it has been since 2007, will be raised with a view to pursuing intimacy and partnership in the years and decades to come.”

The French diplomat also touched on the special relations that Morocco has forged with African countries, particularly those in the Sahel and West Africa, pointing out that the Kingdom and France have “a lot to do together” on the African continent.

France’s ambassador recalled in this connection Morocco’s “longer-standing and more stable relations with African countries,” which make the Kingdom “the country best perceived by public opinion in the Sahel.”

“We can work together to strengthen our solidarity and our common destiny in the face of our competitors,” said the diplomat.

In this respect, Lecourtier recalled that relations between Europe and Africa necessarily pass through the Maghreb, the Sahel and West Africa, stressing that this reality is in line with the vision of King Mohammed VI, who has made Morocco’s anchorage in its African depth one of the major pillars of the Kingdom’s foreign policy.

The French ambassador who emphasized France’s willingness to enhance its partnership with Morocco, said that his country has “the capacity to be a useful ally and partner, without exclusivity or monopoly.” “Without arrogance, Morocco is right to want to see France around the table and to want, as we want with it, to re-found this very ambitious agenda,” he added.

“This means that we must be capable of living up to the role that you may wish to give us, one of the major partners for the next 20 years. This means that we must be able to mobilize financial resources, and in terms of expertise, investment, and research,” pointed out the French diplomat.

Regarding the question of the quality training needed to support this partnership, and drawing on Morocco’s “absolutely central positioning in this area of co-prosperity,” Lecourtier stressed that the key would be to ensure the training of thousands of young Moroccans, Europeans, and Sub-Saharans, at both higher and intermediate levels, with facilitated mobility, leading to a win-win partnership.

“In this field, Morocco and France can make Morocco a place where Moroccans, French, Sub-Saharans, and Europeans come to train and be able to +irrigate+ our Euro-Moroccan-African region to realize our destiny,” said the diplomat.

Lecourtier’s remarks come on the backdrop of France’s expressed desire to warm up relations with Morocco and echo the French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné who affirmed last week his commitment to bridging the gap and rebuilding trust between the two nations.

Séjourné, who assumed office in January, expressed, in an interview with Ouest-France daily paper, President Macron’s personal directive to improve French-Moroccan ties, and emphasized the need to start a new chapter in their relationship.
Séjourné said he will invest in improving ties with Morocco and reaffirmed Paris support for the Sahara autonomy plan.

“The Republic’s President has personally asked me to invest in French-Moroccan relations to open a new chapter in our toes. I will be committed to that,” Sejourne said.
“Now, it is time to move forward. I will do everything in the upcoming weeks and months so that France and Morocco get closer,” he said, adding that his priority will be “rebuilding trust.”

France has a position that is “clear and steady in support for the autonomy plan since 2007,” the Foreign Minister said, reiterating France’s readiness to move forward on the Sahara issue

Ties between Morocco and France worsened in the two past years against the backdrop of a series of events, notably Paris falling short of following the USA’s full recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the Sahara, maneuvers by French MPs against Moroccan interests at the European parliament, and Macron’s Algiers tropism.

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