“Morocco should not play in the schoolyard, but in the big leagues and they do it well”

Interview conducted by Souad MEKKAOUI

In his August 20 speech, His Majesty King Mohammed VI called on the traditional partners with ambiguous positions to recognize the Moroccanness of the Sahara. The Kingdom thus takes an irreversible decision which consists in placing the national cause above all considerations within the framework of the establishment of any type of bilateral partnership.

If the Kingdom was one of the greatest friends of France with which it had an exceptional partnership, today things are not what they were and the Kingdom shows intransigence as regards its integrity. territorial.

Indeed, the crisis settles between the two countries following several proven facts including the visas issued drop by drop to Moroccans, within the framework of a French policy of sanction with regard to all the countries of the Maghreb. . But a twist: Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Algeria and then France’s decision to put an end to its policy of restricting visas for Tunisians, announced on August 31 while Moroccans are suffering from the rejection of requests, certainly do not fall under the not just a coincidence. Political scientist Gabriel Banon sheds light on this looming crisis between Morocco and France. Maintenance.

MD _ We are witnessing more and more a silent crisis between Morocco and France in recent years. What exactly is going on?

GB_ It is true that Morocco/France relations are currently going through an area of ​​turbulence that we can only regret. This is not new and it is unfortunate for both parties that this situation persists. It seems that the French officials, government and diplomatic corps, have not taken the measure of the evolution of Morocco since the end of the protectorate.

What makes the two countries no longer have the same strong ties of a few years ago?

When disagreement sets in, the ties, however strong they may have been, become distended and a gap develops which can only widen if the two parties do not calmly consider each other’s interests.

For his second term, Emmanuel Macron chose Algiers for his first official trip, knowing that one of the challenges of the presidency in 2022, in France, is foreign policy. How do you read it?

Mr. Emmanuel Macron has given priority to his Algerian interests. It is his strictest right, although history tells us that his predecessors judged differently. Morocco has become a sovereign state, a regional power with diversified alliances which are the strength of its diplomacy. I always remind my listeners and my students that a STATE HAS NO FRIENDS BUT INTERESTS. And if we must understand the interests of France, the reciprocity is that it understands that Morocco also has priorities such as the Moroccanness of the southern provinces and that the integrity of its territory is a non-negotiable cause. His Majesty’s last speech was clear on this subject and Morocco’s partners, including France, must clarify their position without ambiguity.

How do you explain France’s decision to drastically reduce, described as unjustified by Nasser Bourita, the granting of visas to Moroccans? Why did Morocco not opt ​​for reciprocity? What is your analysis of the new Moroccan diplomacy?

France’s decision to drastically and indiscriminately reduce the granting of visas to Moroccans is a playground response to a subject that is subject to negotiation. ” Well, I’m not going to give visas anymore, Na ! I can’t call it diplomacy but bitterness. Yes, Morocco is today a State endowed with an active diplomacy, major, I will say more, Morocco has, today, a diplomacy of combat and it is so much the better for the defense of the interests of the Kingdom. But this situation should not continue. Reciprocity in this matter is a false good idea. This will permanently install the harmful misunderstanding for the two countries. Morocco should not play in the schoolyard, but in the big leagues and they do it well.

Given the historical relations between Morocco and France, the latter being Morocco’s second economic partner for several years, behind Spain, shouldn’t the French Republic be the 1time to recognize the Moroccanness of the Sahara at a time when the position of the USA, Spain and Germany could not be clearer?

I deeply regret – and I did so publicly at the MD Sahara Forum in Dakhla – that, given its historical ties with Morocco and its in-depth knowledge of Moroccan realities, France was not the first, before the United States and other nations, to officially recognize the Moroccanness of the Moroccan Sahara.

In your opinion, what bothers France the most, this former colonial power dealing with a new Morocco?

I am convinced that those in charge at the Quai d’Orsay have not taken the measure of Morocco’s development, particularly in foreign policy.

This crisis in Franco-Moroccan relations has relegated France to second place, behind Spain, in its economic achievements, investments and trade.

How does France view Rabat’s rapprochement with Tel Aviv?

It is well known that France did not look kindly on Morocco’s signing of the Abraham Accords. I can conceive it because Israel will be and already is a formidable competitor for the French military-industrial complex. In addition, the control of water and agricultural problems for difficult soils is not comparable to any country including France.

How, in your opinion, can relations between the two countries evolve?

I am convinced that this crisis will be overcome, because too many links, even if they have loosened somewhat, exist between the two countries. We must hope that we quickly turn the page on visas, because Moroccan students risk turning away from the French grandes écoles where they shine every year. They risk going elsewhere, to the United States, London, Berlin or Moscow. And we know from experience that students abroad become ambassadors of the countries where they studied.

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