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Morocco”s Foreign Minister: We Will Hold Whoever ”Provokes” Us Responsible; | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Morroco Foreign Minister


Morroco Foreign Minister

Morroco Foreign Minister

ASHARQ AL-AWSAT

Moroccan Foreign Minister Mohamed Benaissa has indicated that his country is still hoping that the Libyan leadership will succeed soon in its efforts to bring together all the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) member states, and that the AMU summit will be held in a positive and transparent atmosphere.

Speaking from Tripoli, Benaissa said that the recent visit of King Mohammed VI to Algeria aimed to put an end to the vicious circle (of recriminations between the two countries).

Benaissa said, however, that the message that Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika had sent to the Polisario secretary-general, Mohamed Abdelaziz, on the occasion of 32nd anniversary of the creation of the Polisario front used &#34language that was rather unfriendly towards Morocco. It attacked the very essence of the sovereignty and the independence of the Kingdom of Morocco, particularly when the Algerian president said that he would be the defender of the Polisario at the Libyan summit; this is despite the fact that during the talks between his majesty and President Bouteflika an understanding was reached that the Saharan file should be left to the UN as Algeria has always demanded.&#34

And in order not to transform the AMU summit into a bilateral venue in which Morocco and Algeria would trade accusations with each other, the Moroccan foreign minister explained that King Mohammed VI decided to inform the Libyan leader, Col Mu”ammar al-Qadhafi, that he preferred not to attend the summit until things became much clearer, in order not embarrass him.

The following is the interview:

(Al-Butaywi) Can one assume that the postponed AMU summit in Libya was the last chance for the AMU to put itself back on the right track?

(Benaissa) We, in Morocco, are hoping that the Libyan leadership will succeed soon in its efforts to bring together all the Arab Maghreb Union member states, and that the AMU summit will be held in a positive and transparent atmosphere. Morocco and His Majesty King Mohammed VI in particular were looking forward to the Tripoli summit being a springboard for a fresh start, for a joint Maghreban action, and for a real reactivation of the AMU institutions removed from any provocation or unfruitful argument. We were hoping that this summit would be an occasion to create the necessary mechanism for inter-Maghreban coordination at the regional and international levels.

(Al-Butaywi) Some people compare the AMU to the Greek myth of Sisyphus and see the Saharan problem as the bolder that the legendary hero in that story is doomed forever to roll up the hill. Do you not think that the AMU has done nothing but go round in a vicious circle, which will always end up at square one?

(Benaissa) In order to put an end to this vicious circle, following his recent talks in Algiers with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, King Mohammed VI decided that we should just normalize all our ties with our Algerian brothers and work towards giving the AMU a new dynamism, and that we should leave–as the Algerians have always requested–the Saharan problem to the UN, in order not jeopardize future Maghreban joint efforts. His majesty’s keenness to (improve ties with Algeria) can also be seen in his earlier initiatives when he decided to cancel visa requirements for Algerian nationals wishing to visit Morocco and when he prolonged his stay in Algiers (during the recent Arab summit) so that he could have further talks with President Bouteflika–and that notwithstanding the other signals sent by Morocco urging our Algerian brothers to speed up the process of normalizing our bilateral ties through the establishment of good neighborliness and fraternal ties that are transparent and constructive. However, much to our regret, we were surprised on the eve of the summit by an unprecedented and unacceptable escalation when President Bouteflika decided to send a congratulatory message to the Polisario front using language that was rather unfriendly towards Morocco. It attacked the very essence of the sovereignty and the independence of the Kingdom of Morocco, particularly when the Algerian president said that he would be the defender of the Polisarioat the Libyan summit; this is despite the fact that during the talks between his majesty and President Bouteflika an understanding was reached that the Saharan file should be left to the UN as Algeria has always demanded

(Al-Butaywi) After you left the hall where the AM foreign ministers were meeting the day before yesterday, you went to see Col Al-Qadhafi. How did the Libyan leader receive the news that Morocco was not attending the summit after all?

(Benaissa) I do not think that it is appropriate for me to divulge the details of any talks between the AM president and myself. I can only say here that I conveyed a verbal message from his majesty the king to leader Al-Qadhafi, and that the message dealt primarily with the AMU.

(Al-Butaywi) If one assumes that there will be winners and losers following the postponement of the AMU summit, who, in your opinion, will be the winners and who will be the losers?

(Benaissa) We, in the Kingdom of Morocco, do not like the logic of winners and losers. As I have already said, King Mohammed VI is personally keen to keep, support, and bolster the AMU as a strategic choice that cannot just be ignored because it was the choice of the peoples rather than of the governments. Therefore, we feel let down every time there is a postponement or a derailment. In the end, we are all losers.

(Al-Butaywi) Since the AMU is now deadlocked, are you not afraid in Morocco that the ceasefire in the Sahara will be broken, particularly following the recent Polisario threats?

(Benaissa) We will, of course, hold whoever provokes us responsible. The UN is monitoring the situation through the &#34Minurso (United Nation Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara).&#34 Morocco will, naturally, defend its gains, sovereignty, and entity, as well as its territories with every available means.