(Interview) Youssef Amrani: The development of Moroccan-South African relations and their future

(Interview) Youssef Amrani: The development of Moroccan-South African relations and their future

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In an interview with Morocco Telegraph, Moroccan diplomat and politician, Youssef Amrani, Moroccan Ambassador to South Africa, expressed his views regarding the bilateral relations between Morocco and South Africa as well as Morocco ‘s diplomatic efforts in Africa. The interview transcript is as follows:

– Morocco and South Africa are two of the African continent’s most advanced countries. To what extent have the countries capitalized on economic opportunities in order to achieve the desired growth?

Let me tell you first that, our two countries agreed, at highest level, to reinforce and develop their relations trough a renewed Partnership. By building closer and stronger ties we actually participate in building up a prosperous, secure and forward looking Africa.

On the economic level, Morocco and south Africa have shared some big success stories in the recent years. Saham and Sanlam, Aredei Capital and so on, … Two months ago, Casablanca Finance City Authority (CFCA) and the South African Agency Wesgro signed a memorandum of understanding to promote investment opportunities in Morocco and South Africa. Morocco’s regional Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and services of the Souss-Massa region signed an MoU with South Africa’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Cape Province. These new instruments pave the way for the establishment of a support platform for companies in their respective investment projects, whether in South Africa or in Morocco.
But of course, this is not enough. We have to push this dynamic even further to create more value for our people and our young generation. This is what matters the most. I think that the most appropriate way to do this is by enhancing inter-African trade and investment through appropriate tools like the African continental free-trade area (Afcfta). The creation of the Afcfta marks the beginning of a broader collective plan and a new model of supportive, efficient and inclusive co-development in the service of African countries.
Let us not forget that Morocco and South Africa have been, alternately during the last years, the largest investors in the continent and the largest in their respective regions. As so, they are called upon to play major roles in the African integration process. On the other hand, Morocco and South Africa are among the very few African countries that currently have the tools and the know how to efficiently address the needs of the African continent in Covid vaccines and medical equipment.
Therefore, we must look beyond the economic dimension of the bilateral cooperation and work internally, by our own means, to review realities that are now obsolete. More than ever, policies of solidarity are needed as we should aim further to common and shared objectives like peace restoration, strengthening democracy, strong economic growth, in order to enhance States’ resilience and promote inclusive, sustainable development for the benefit of the African continent.
This is the Vision of His Majesty the King for the Africa We Want, a continent that takes responsibility for its own destiny through a renewed commitment, that puts human development at the heart of its priorities, in order to achieve Peace and Prosperity.
I believe that by working together, Morocco and South Africa can increase trade and investment and promote economic and human development projects throughout the continent, as means of promoting stability and security for the African people. Overall, we have to turn the pages of ideological positions and work together to overcome our differences and build-up a common future based on shared prosperity and values.

– As one of the most prominent pillars of Moroccan diplomacy, how do you see the dynamism of the Moroccan Sahara issue particularly through the expanding circle of States that recognize national sovereignty, as well as the number of consulates opened? 

Let me remind you that the UN has defined clear parameters for the way forward in the search for a durable solution to this regional dispute over the Sahara. The language of the UN, and therefore that of international legality, advocates for a political solution that is realistic, pragmatic, sustainable and based on compromise.
All these parameters are fully reflected in the autonomy plan presented by Morocco in 2007. Since 2007, all the Resolutions of the UN Security Council have supported the Moroccan approach by underlining the pre-eminence of its initiative, its seriousness and its credibility. As a matter of fact, the autonomy plan is the one and only way forward for a final solution to this regional dispute, namely autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty.
This plan is a “win-win” solution that represents a realistic and pragmatic way to put an end to this dispute in full consistency with the guidelines of the Security Council. It brings hope for a better future for the people of the region, puts an end to separation and promotes reconciliation. It is the only solution that satisfies the parameters laid out in Security Council resolutions: A realistic, practicable, and enduring political solution that rests on compromise.
This wording used by the Security Council is not fortuitous. It is a direct call to the other parties to move forward in this negotiation process, involving all the relevant stakeholders, in order to put an end to the deadlock that has lasted long enough. The cost of this lack of will to find a final solution to this issue is too high, for the people of the region as well as for the UN efforts.
As you rightly mention in your question, we acknowledge every day a greater number of countries around the globe that are no longer taking half measures to formally recognize the full and complete sovereignty of Morocco over its Saharan provinces. The opening of more than 20 consulates general of brotherly and friendly countries in Dakhla and Laayoune, the American proclamation and many other diplomatic breakthroughs reflect the same conviction that Morocco’s legitimacy is undeniable and its sovereignty over the Sahara non-negotiable.
Moreover, Morocco has a just cause, a long-term vision and a legitimate ambition. For the past decades, the economic and social development of the Sahara has been a priority for Morocco. In its Saharan provinces, as elsewhere throughout its national territory, the Kingdom has never ceased to promote the interests of its citizens.
The resulting benefits of this approach are outstanding. By creating added value and massively investing in the future of the region, Morocco has created a momentum for prosperity and development not only in the Southern Provinces but rather throughout the national territory, and for the benefit of all Moroccan citizens from Tangier to Lagouira.

– How do you assess Morocco’s position on the continent since its re-accession to the African Union, which has created the opportunity for the establishment and strengthening of various initiatives led by King Mohammed VI on the continent?

Morocco’s return to the AU is the result of a proactive and sustained policy of His Majesty King Mohammed VI and a Royal Vision in favour of a South-South cooperation development and a win-win partnership. It is a return to normal, to our natural place.

Africa forms an integral part of Morocco’s identity. Morocco is African, by its geography, as well as by its history. Human, economic and religious ties have always been strong between the Kingdom and the continent it belongs to.

On top of that and since its independence, Morocco has always been putting Africa in the heart of its strategic choices. We remember proudly that, since the 60’s and shortly after its independence, Morocco actively supported African independence movements and their emblematic leaders from Patrice Lumumba to Nelson Mandela, providing them with diplomatic support as well as military assistance in order to defeat colonialism and help the continent achieve peace.

Morocco is a founding member of the OAU. It was the Casablanca conference, in 1961, that brought together the most charismatic leaders of the newly independent African countries gathered around the Father of the Moroccan independence Mohammed V, and led to the birth of the pan Africanism and the Organization of the African Unity.

In 1984, the Kingdom withdrew, for a while, but never left Africa. Morocco did not wait for its return to the AU to invest in social-economic development with the African countries. The Moroccan multidimensional offer is singular and unique based on a global, integrated and inclusive approach that takes into consideration promoting peace and stability, sustainable human development and cultural and spiritual identity.

The spirit of fraternity, solidarity and humanism prevails in our foreign policy. HM King Mohammed VI’s initiative to support and work together with more than 15 African sisterly nations in their national efforts and endeavours to fight the Covid pandemic, confirms yet again, Morocco’s commitment for a united, strong and resilient Africa.

Today Morocco spares no efforts to contribute in building up an emergent strong, independent and confident continent. Integration, stability and prosperity are at the heart of our priorities. Morocco deeply believes that Africa’s future must rely on common ownership and dialogue and unequivocal support for the priorities of an African youth in search of prosperity and opportunities.

Nevertheless, one has to understand that African unity is a moving target. We have to constantly adapt our self to the requirement of goal oriented policies. It is not always an easy task to find common grounds as Africa is a very diverse continent. The AU must provide the space that unites ambitions and pulls strategies. Its role is crucial to express a continental vision that breaks with past approaches.

The Kingdom’s return to the African Union, its institutional family, is therefore that of a deep and unequivocal desire to bring strength and contribution to the building of an emancipated Africa.