As part of a visit aimed at “strengthening the strategic partnership” with Morocco, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez attended a bilateral ministerial meeting in Rabat. The visit comes after the two countries have turned the page on an acute diplomatic crisis over the Western Sahara issue. King Mohammed VI, in a telephone conversation with the Spanish Prime Minister before his arrival in Rabat, praised the “new phase of bilateral partnership.” between the two countries, the royal court said in a statement.
A high-level meeting between the Moroccan and Spanish governments commemorates the reconciliation reached last March, when Sanchez announced Spain’s support for Morocco’s autonomy proposal as the only solution to the Western Sahara conflict.
Moreover, this rapprochement between the two countries comes in the context of tense relations between Rabat and Paris, Morocco’s other historical partner.
Paris is accused by the political class and local media of being behind the European Parliament’s recent recommendation on freedom of the press in Morocco, allegations of bribing European parliamentarians, and the Spanish Socialist MEPs voted against the text.
“The better the relationship between Morocco and Spain, the better for them, for Europe, for businesses and for the citizens of both countries,” Sanchez said at the conclusion of the economic forum in Rabat.
The two sides signed 24 agreements to promote Spanish investment in Morocco and forged partnerships in education, culture, desalination and rail transport, according to Spanish government sources. They also initialed an agreement “to completely normalize the passage of people.” and goods through customs, land and sea ports. The opening of land crossings is associated with the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla (northern Morocco), the customs post of which has been closed since 2018.
During this summit, the parties discussed cooperation in the fight against illegal migration. The latter file is considered strategic for the two countries’ relationship, as the flow of illegal migrants to Spain has fallen by 25% in 2022, according to Spanish officials, thanks to renewed security cooperation between the two countries this year. field.
However, this collaboration was overshadowed by the killing of 23 illegal migrants on 24 June while attempting to storm the border crossing with the Melilla enclave, drawing criticism from human rights organizations of the two governments, and Rabat is also an ally of Madrid in the fight against terrorism.