Relations between Morocco and Algeria are «suspended at all levels», the Moroccan Foreign Minister, Nasser Bourita, declared to «Jeune Afrique» magazine in an interview to be published on Monday 28th of August.
According to the Minister, the Maghreb is the least integrated region in the continent, «senior officials from both sides haven’t visited each others in seven years, bilateral cooperation is inexistent and the Arab Maghreb Union meetings are not held in time».
He also added that Morocco’s return to the African Union is an important step, stressing that the decision is just a first step in a long journey that is awaiting Morocco. «The objectives of this step were mentioned in King Mohammed VI speeches delivered in Kigali on July 2015, Dakar in November 2016 and Addis Ababa in January 2017».
ECOWAS is an economic community and not a geographical one
«On the other hand, we are contributing to the collective action for Africa and this is what we are doing : Morocco is attending all the African Union meetings, His Majesty addressed the leaders of the Union on ‘migration' during the last summit of the organization on the 3rd and 4th of July in Addis Ababa», Bourita explained.
Bourita also said that the King has submitted a written contribution to the Au President, Paul Kagame on the reform of the continental organization.
«As for Burundi, Morocco is ready to work with all the countries that are not in good terms with the kingdom, even those that have different opinions and stands regarding the Moroccan Sahara», he argued.
Regarding Morocco’s bid to join the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Bourita stated that «responding to the royal letter sent on the 23rd of February to the 15-state group forshadows the kingdom’s will to collaborate with the belief that our accession will be beneficial to all».
He also added that «after the political agreement we are in the legal stage, and we will continue moving to the stage of technical negotiation». the Foreign Minister responded to those who are against Morocco’s membership saying that «ECOWAS is an economic community and not a geographical one» adding that Mauritania was a member of the organization before leaving it in 2000.
Visits to Algeria
Unlike what Bourita said earlier in his interview, Moroccan and Algerian senior officials have visited each others on several occasion during the last seven years. On the 23 and 24 of January 2012, Saadeddine El Othmani who was back in the time Minister of Foreign Affairs, has been to Algeria in an official visit.
On June 18, 2011, the Minister of Agriculture, Aziz Akhannouch, went to Algiers. During his visit to the neighboring country, he signed a cooperation agreement on plant protection and trade. Two months earlier, it was his Algerian counterpart, Rachid Benaissa, who had taken the initiative to come to Rabat.
Almost two months after El Otmani's trip, former Minister of Communication Mustapha El Khalfi, accompanied by the MAP news agency director-general, landed at the Boumediene airport on an official visit. Rabat and Algiers signed a Memorandum of Cooperation in the field of communication where MAP and APS, the Algerian news agency, promised to collaborate in the future.
Moreover, on 20 and 21 February 2013, it was Nasser Bourita, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who visited Algiers. Senior officials from both countries continued to collaborate despite the tense context.