Mr Karim Medrek, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to Australia is optimistic about robust relations between Kingdom of Morocco and Australia in the years to come as both friendly nations despite geographical distances are on same page on various regional and international issues besides contributing for regional and global peace and stability and offering enormous business opportunities.
In a wide ranging interview with Vibe Media, Ambassador Medrek discussed in detail the topics from ever growing political and economic ties with Australia to peace and stability in Middle East and North Africa, from Sahara issue to Covid-19.
The year 2021 is being celebrated as 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Morocco and Australia. On 13 July, 1976 Kingdom of Morocco and Australia established their diplomatic relations.
“This anniversary comes as an occasion to reflect on the evolution of this relationship and how to bring our two friendly countries closer as these relations are, currently, undergoing an excellent momentum, marked by a common willingness of both countries to favour rapprochement and to seize the existing opportunities of cooperation, particularly in the economic field.”, Mr Medrek deliberated.
He said that the opening of the Australian Embassy in Morocco in 2017 constitutes a concrete sign of the interest shown by the Australian authorities in the reinforcement of cooperation with the Kingdom.
“We have a dynamic political dialogue with the Australian authorities, based principally on multilateral cooperation and notably global issues such as peace, security and the fight against terrorism”, Moroccan Ambassador remarked while highlighting the vision of King of Morocco to the diversification of international partners.
He especially named Education, research and development and agricultural technologies as well as agribusiness among several fields of cooperation that Kingdom of Morocco would like to reinforce as kingdom is seeking exchange of experience in territorial and local development policies as well as governance, especially in the framework of the implementation of the new regionalization process in Morocco.
On economic cooperation, Ambassador Medrek emphasized that both Morocco and Australia were looking for further enhancing their economic exchange due to the role of leadership played by both countries in their respective regions and due to the abundance of investment opportunities in many sectors.
“Morocco is not only an important market in its own right, but also becoming the first commercial gateway to Africa as well as Africa’s bridge to Europe. Along with its strategic geographic position and intimate knowledge of the continent, Morocco has increasingly become a major gateway to these markets”, he added.
He also suggested to increase of interactions between the two private sector actors in both countries, establishment of a legal framework for economic cooperation, investment development and business relations between the two countries in order to make things easier.
Ambassador also named some success stories of economic cooperation between Morocco and Australia including Costa Group, the largest fruit and vegetable company in Australia, invested significantly in Morocco with a multi-million-dollar facility, located in Larache (North of Morocco), designed to handle up to 12,000 tonnes of blueberries per year and processing 150 tonnes per day.
Also, Moroccan M2M, a worldwide group that has been operating for 30 years to provide processing solutions, securities management and secure electronic services, encouraging the exploration of other ways of investment in both countries.
On the question of establishing diplomatic ties with Israel, Moroccan Ambassador rejected all criticism suggesting that there is no change at all in Morocco’s permanent and sustained commitment to the just Palestinian cause and its determination to continue to contribute effectively and constructively to a lasting peace in the Middle East.
In fact, His Majesty the King reiterated the constant position of the Kingdom of Morocco, through a phone call with the Palestinian President, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas in favour of the Palestinian question, based on the two-state solution, as internationally agreed, as well as its attachment to negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli parties as the only way to achieve a final, lasting and comprehensive settlement to this conflict.
“The latest decision was about reopening the liaison offices in Rabat and Tel Aviv, in addition to resuming official contacts with counterparts in Israel and granting authorizations for direct flights for the transportation essentially of members of the Moroccan Jewish community and tourists to and from Morocco as more than 700.000 Jewish Moroccans live currently in Israel and maintain a strong relation with their country of origin.
Ambassador continued evoking the strong attachment of Hebrew Moroccans to their country of origin which is result of openness and the pre-eminence of religious dialogue and tolerance within the Moroccan Society.
“The Moroccan religious model has been hailed by the international community in reason of its tolerance and openness and constant plead for inter-religious dialogue. Morocco, where Arab-Islamic, African and Judeo-Christian civilizations have long mingled, honors an immutable tradition of moderation”, he said adding Moroccan constitution ensures the respect of the freedom of thought and expression to every individual as well as his or her right of religious practice as Morocco’s unity is forged by the convergence of its Arab-Islamist, Berber and Saharan-Hassani components, nourished and enriched by its African, Andalusian, Hebraic and Mediterranean influences.
He said that Moroccan people are attached to the values of openness, of moderation, of tolerance and of dialogue for mutual understanding between all the cultures and the civilizations of the world. Therefore, the Constitution emphasizes the multi-dimensional and multi-cultural nature of the population, including, via allusions, religiously speaking, to Judaism.
The Moroccan religious model gives confidence and paves the way for the consolidation of peace and stability. His Majesty the King’s approach benefits everyone, including non-Muslims, in a land where different religious communities live in harmony and tolerance.
On the resolution of regional conflicts, Ambassador Karim Medrek suggested that Morocco has no initiative to resolve any external crisis nor does it claim to have a solution, yet it encourages any peaceful initiative or attempt of dialogue. For example, this has been the position expressed by the Kingdom of Morocco since the beginning of the Libyan Crisis. Many international organisations and countries have expressed their admiration of the initiatives taken by Morocco which inspired optimism between Libyans themselves who saw in them a glimmer of hope.
With regard to Middle East, Morocco has reaffirmed its firm and clear position, under the leadership of HM the King, Chairman of the Al-Quds Committee, in favour of the Palestinian cause and its commitment to a peaceful settlement based on the two-State solution.
In the same vein, the Kingdom welcomed the positive development of relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar as well as the signing of the Al-Ula Declaration, marking the end of the diplomatic tension between the two sides and encourages in all cases the march of unity and cooperation in order to achieve common interests to serve people, tighten cooperation, and consolidate security and stability regionally and globally.
About COVID-19 challenges, Ambassador Medrek emphasized the urgent need to strengthen and broaden the scope of international cooperation, especially within the multilateral system.
“As the pandemic continues to evolve, there is a more pressing need for institutions to rethink and reconfigure their businesses in the framework of this changing panorama. Fair distribution of vaccine to countries and international support for vaccination processes is a real test to the world and to the concept of multilateral cooperation itself. Moreover, there should be a massive support to key areas in order to stabilize and pave the way for economies to recover. At the same time, the global challenges to peace and security, alongside issues with strong social and economic implications such as migration and climate change, still require a steady follow-up and urgent action.
About Morocco handling with the pandemic, Ambassador declared the border management as a decisive factor to limit the spread of the virus. Furthermore, sanitary measures such as a national lockdown, prohibition of public gatherings, closing schools, social distancing and compulsory masks wearing were implemented at a very early phase. These measures allowed Morocco to keep the spread under control and to prevent catastrophic human losses.
He mentioned that the King launched in March 2020 a national solidarity fund that has allowed the Government to finance expenditure on medical device upgrades, to support the national economy in coping with the shock, to preserve jobs and to mitigate the social impact of the pandemic.
A strong recovery plan has also been put in place to help reach the pre-COVID economic growth rates and relaunch the national economy. In this regard, His Majesty the King announced in July 2020 the launch of the “Mohammed VI Investment Fund” which has seen around almost12 billion dollars injected into the national economy, representing 11% of our GDP.
Morocco launched the vaccination campaign on 28th of January that has reached, until now more than 3 Million people, notably frontline workers and those belonging to the most vulnerable categories with a rate of 7.16 per 100 persons.
On a question to the international recognition of the Moroccan sovereignty over the Sahara region, Moroccan Ambassador said that there have been several developments in regard to the issue of the Moroccan Sahara during the last months while referring to the positive evolution concerning the international recognition of the Moroccan sovereignty over the Sahara.
The opening of consulates in the cities of Laayoune and Dakhla by a number of international countries, as well as the numerous official statements and declarations of support to the Moroccan position, have obviously caused panic and anxiety among the separatists. All this intervenes in a moment when 163 countries, representing 85% of the United Nations Members do not recognize this fictional entity.
Concerning the incidents of El Guergarate’s crossing point, a peaceful operation carried out by the Royal Armed Forces in the morning of the 13th of November 2020, took place, without clashes or threat to the safety of civilians, and in presence of the personnel of MINURSO. No casualty was recorded during this non-offensive and non-bellicose intent action.
The outcome of this operation has received very strong support from the international community, as was underlined by a very large number of African, Arab and European countries, as well as by international and regional organizations.
He hailed United States recognition of the Moroccan sovereignty over the Sahara region adding that US proclamation expressed through a presidential decree comes within the context of growing support to the Moroccaness of the Sahara which enshrines the pre-eminence of the Moroccan Initiative for Autonomy as the only viable solution to put an end to this artificial conflict.
In addition, the decision of the United States of America to open its Consulate General in the city of Dakhla comes at a moment when the countries of the international community opened various diplomatic representations in the Moroccan Sahara all over the last year, confirming this tendency of recognition of the full Sovereignty of the Kingdom on its territory.
He said that United States of America, known as the Pen Holder within the UN Security Council, reiterates, through its decision, the impossibility of establishing a pseudo state in the Moroccan Sahara, paving the way for a final solution within the respect of Morocco’s sovereignty on its territory and based on the autonomy plan which is in line with the UN Resolutions calls for a pragmatic and realistic solution to turn once and for all the page of this artificial conflict created around an obsolete discourse during the Cold War era.
He lamented that this artificial conflict is still undergoing a stalemate because of the obstacles created by the other parties, populations are still living under the yoke of inhumane conditions, deprived of their essential needs, children seeing their rights stolen and being enrolled in military activities at an early age and the rest of the population subject to all forms of torture and forced disappearances. There is an urgent need to put an end to this calvary and to no longer ignore the hard reality that of a population living in the camps of shame, under the repression of an armed group, involved in all sorts of trafficking, banditry and wrongdoing.
About the current state of Morocco’s relations with this Pacific region, Ambassador Karim Medrek said that South-South Cooperation figures among the most important determinants of Morocco’s Foreign Policy. This approach has had a positive impact on the Pacific region due to the fact that it is based on the principles of egalitarianism and voluntarism, in full respect of the interests of all the stakeholders.
In the framework of our cooperation with the Pacific region, the multilateral sphere is another important aspect, as we have enjoyed all over the recent year a convergence of views on a number of common interest issues at the level of the United Nations.
The 3rd Edition of the Forum “Morocco-Pacific Islands States” held in the charming Moroccan city of Laayoune in February 2020 constituted an occasion to lay the foundations of the upcoming phase of cooperation between Morocco and the Pacific Islands Countries. This event constituted, in my opinion, the sign of the consolidation of the ties of cooperation, the implementation of the commitments, the unification of voices and the promotion of shared prosperity.
When asked about Moroccan response on various challenges including Climate Change, Ambassador Medrek briefed that despite the current sanitary situation, Morocco spared no efforts during this year to carry on its brilliant actions on the international level as our country has been re-elected as co-chair of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum for the third consecutive time and has also been elected to a number of international bodies, reflecting the international community’s recognition of the Kingdom’s credibility at the multilateral level thanks to the far-sighted vision of His Majesty King Mohammed VI.
“Indeed, 2020 has been the year of the consecration of the Kingdom at the international level as it has obtained a rate of 100% of success in terms of candidacies, be it with regard to the United Nations organs, Human Rights, Environment, Migration, Health, Sports etc”, he concluded.