Albares will travel to Morocco on Thursday on the first official visit of the new Government to the neighboring country


Updated

The visit takes place at the invitation of Rabat and will last 24 hours

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, José
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jos Manuel Albares.ANTONIO HEREDIA
  • Morocco Mohamed VI congratulates Pedro Sánchez on his investiture

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Jose Manuel Albareswill meet next Thursday in Rabat with his Moroccan counterpart, Naser Burita, with a view to advancing the strengthening of relations, as diplomatic sources confirmed this Sunday. The minister’s trip, his first official visit in this legislature, takes place at the invitation of Morocco and will last for 24 hours, which highlights its importance, the sources have stressed.

In this way, it will be Albares who fulfills the traditional gesture that the presidents of the Government make their first trip to Morocco. In his case, Pedro Sánchez did not do so either in the previous legislature or in this one, in which his first trip abroad was to visit Israel, Palestine and Egypt in the midst of the conflict in the Middle East.

Although the sources have not offered more details about the matters to be discussed between the two ministers, during the telephone conversation held on November 28, Sánchez and the Moroccan prime minister, Aziz Achanuch, expressed their willingness to “promote the already agreed bilateral agenda and explore the new opportunities offered by this renewed relationship.” It is therefore expected that the two ministers will review the progress in the implementation of the roadmap agreed in April 2022 in Sánchez’s meeting with Mohamed VI after the support of the Moroccan autonomy plan for the Shara and endorsed at the High Level Meeting (RAN) at the beginning of February.

OPENING OF CUSTOMS

Here, the most notable point, due to the meaning it has, is the reopening of the Melilla customs office, unilaterally closed by Morocco in 2018, and the creation of a new one in Ceuta. The Government considers that with this Rabat is recognizing the Spanishness of both enclaves, a recurring theme of friction. To date there have only been three test expeditions, the first on the eve of the RAN at the end of January, the second on February 24, and the last on May 26, on the eve of the regional and municipal elections. The electoral advance would have caused the paralysis of the application of the agreed calendar and that both governments have not wanted to make known, so it is to be hoped that the meeting between Albares and Burita could serve to relaunch it.

There is also no evidence of progress in another chapter that is of particular interest to the Canary Islands: the delimitation of the territorial waters of the Atlantic coast. Both governments agreed to reactivate the existing working group that had not met for fifteen years. Since then, there have been at least two meetings, but no concrete results have emerged.

The meeting could also serve to prepare Sánchez’s pending visit to Rabat to which Mohamed VI invited him in the telephone conversation they had before the RAN to justify not receiving him during his stay in the Moroccan capital. Then, the Alau monarch, who was not in the country at that time, invited him to “make an official visit soon” that has not yet materialized.

Likewise, it is to be expected that immigration will also appear on the agenda of the two ministers, although it is not a specific topic in their portfolio. The Government insists that Morocco is fulfilling its part in the equation but the arrivals of irregular immigrants this year have reached record levels only surpassed by the data from 2018. Thus, according to the Ministry of the Interior, more than 50,000 arrivals have been recorded, of which more than 35,000 have been via the Canary Islands, a figure higher than that recorded in the so-called canoe crisis in 2006. Since the Interior does not specify the country from which the boats depart, it cannot be determined if the increase in crossings is due to Only to the greater instability in Senegal, another of the countries of departure, or if these come from other points such as Mauritania.

MEETING WITH BUSINESSMEN

Albares’ agenda in Rabat also includes a meeting with businessmen with a view to strengthening relations on the economic and commercial level. Precisely, one of the main benefits that the rapprochement with Morocco has brought with it has been a notable increase in trade between the two countries. In addition, the minister also wants to strengthen ties on a cultural level with a meeting with Hispanicists as well as a visit to a Spanish school, and cooperation, for which he will meet with Spanish cooperators present in the country and who contributed to the response to the recent earthquake in Marrakech.

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