Macron says its not his fault relations are so poor between Rabat and Paris but no one in Morocco is buying it. Moreover, Moroccans are still blocked from getting a visa to visit France
President Macron of France is deflecting all responsibility for the all time low between France and Morocco, despite few Moroccans believing that he or his friends had any hand in the stance by MEPs in Brussels condemning Rabat over its human rights record.
French President Emmanuel Macron admitted for the first time publicly shaky relations with Rabat over the “wiretapping” scandal after a year of the Elysée denying any “crisis” with the North African kingdom.
“We will move forward. The stage is not the best, but this matter will not stop me,” Macron said during a press conference in which he discussed France’s new strategy in the African continent.
Macron, who promised a policy of “profound humility” in Africa, vowed on February 27th to overcome “the controversy” with Morocco, France’s key trade partner in the African continent.
“There are always people trying to take advantage of circumstances, like the wiretapping scandals in the European Parliament that were exposed by the press,” he added.
In a recommendation approved by a large majority at the end of January, the European Parliament urged the Moroccan authorities to “respect freedom of expression and freedom of the media” and to put an end to “the harassment of journalists.”
The EU parliament also expressed “deep concern” about “allegations that the Moroccan authorities have corrupted members of the European Parliament.”
Some voices in Morocco believed that France stands behind the “anti-Morocco” recommendation of the European Parliament, while relations were already rigid between Paris and Rabat for months.
On the resolution day, Morocco officially ended the duties of its ambassador to France Mohamed Benchaâboun.
“Was that the French government’s handiwork? No! Did France add fuel to the fire? No! We must move forward despite these differences,” the French president said as he assured that his personal relationship with the Moroccan King is always “friendly.”
These comments though have little credibility given that a number of key MEPs who were behind the move are close to Macron including a Brussels based lobbyist who is a personal friend.
Stéphane Séjourné, leader of the centrist group Renaissance in Brussels, was one of the architects of the European Parliament’s resolution condemning last month Morocco’s alleged human rights abuses which Rabat described as hostile.
There are of course other factors at play going back to 2021.
The first signs of coldness between Paris and Rabat started showing right after the Pegasus scandal in 2021 when the daily Le Monde revealed that the cell phones of Macron and fifteen members of the French government were likely among the targets of an unidentified Moroccan security service.
Since then, communication between Macron and Mohammed VI has reportedly stopped.
Agencies/Middle East Eye/Maghrebi