Rabat – King Felipe VI of Spain has called on Morocco to “walk together” with Spain to “begin to materialize the new relationship” on the basis of “stronger and more solid pillars.”
The Spanish King commented on relations with Morocco during his speech at the Royal Palace in Madrid today during a traditional reception for the accredited foreign ambassadors to Spain.
Even as he spoke amid the prolonged absence of Morocco’s Spain ambassador from her Madrid posting, the Spanish king made sure to reaffirm his country’s readiness to restore diplomatic ties with Rabat after months of wide-ranging tensions in recent months.
In May of last year, Morocco recalled Karima Benyaich, its ambassador to Spain, for consultation after news emerged of Spain’s sheltering of Polisario Front leader Brahim Ghali.
Senior Spanish officials’ greenlighting of Ghali’s stay in a hospital in Spain angered Morocco, which described the decision as running against the spirit of partnership and cooperation between the two countries.
Following months of unprecedented bilateral tensions, recent weeks have been marketed by various signals of Spanish attempts to restore normalcy in cooperation with Morocco.
In response, both the Moroccan government and King Mohammed VI have welcomed Madrid’s professed willingness to “open a new page” in its long standing “strategic friendship” with Rabat.
Speaking on the occasion of the Revolution day, in August 2021, King Mohammed VIncouragd dialogue between Morocco and Spain, saying: “With Morocco, our respective governments have agreed to jointly redefine a relationship for the 21st century, based on stronger and more solid pillars.”
In his reception speech today, King Felipe VI adopted a similarly optimistic tone when speaking about the need for Spain and Morocco to boost their cooperation to meet their shared challenges.
He argued that both nations “must walk together to begin to materialize this relationship now.” As the two countries pledge to transcend their recent divergences, their new relationship should essentially be driven by the urgency of“finding solutions to the problems that concern our peoples,” he said.
Many Spanish officials have taken a similar view in recent comments on the centrality of Morocco as a Spanish ally.
In an interview with Spanish news outlet ElDiario, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said that the return of Morocco’s ambassador to Spain is a decision that Morocco should take. But he emphasized that he would like the Moroccan ambassador to come back to Madrid for Morocco and Spain to further their “very fluid” relationship.
Despite a litany of warm comments from both Madrid and Rabat in the past few days, it remains to be seen whether the Moroccan government will respond to King Felipe’s appeal by accelerating Benyaich’s return to Spain.