The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Nasser Bourita, on Sunday called on South Africa to work with Morocco for the emergence of a new model of inter-African cooperation.
“Instead of continuing in a deadlock, Morocco and South Africa must work together to develop a model of inter-African cooperation and South-South cooperation,” Bourita said in an interview with the South African weekly, The Sunday Times.
Morocco and South Africa, which remain two important economies in Africa, are two entry platforms into the continent, he said, noting that Rabat and Pretoria are called to work together to help Africa to move towards the necessary economic emergence of the continent.
Among the main areas for cooperation between the two countries, the minister cited the development of the African Free Trade Area and air transport.
Mr. Bourita did not fail to emphasize the support given by Morocco to the struggle of the South African people against the apartheid regime, recalling that the South African leader Nelson Mandela had been welcomed into the Kingdom since early 1960s.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, on the other hand, stressed that Morocco and South Africa, given their geographical positions, “should not normally have bilateral problems”.
“We do not share the same borders, we do not have territorial problems,” he said, explaining that the problems that disrupt the relations between the two countries can be explained by Pretoria’s decision to “take a stand” on an issue that concerns a region hundreds of kilometers away, a position that runs counter to those of the United Nations and the African Union (AU)”.
Mr. Bourita regretted, in this vein, the decision of South Africa to host, on March 25 and 26 at the headquarters of his Ministry of International Relations, a conference in support of separatists of the polisario.
This conference, organized at the initiative of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), was against the tide of the UN process aimed at finding a solution to the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara, stressing that South Africa, as a member of the international community, must help in this direction within the framework of the necessary neutrality.
“Normally, if you are a country that works within the international community, you have to help without bias and without lining up with a party,” he said.
“South Africa has chosen another path,” regretted Mr. Bourita, pointing out that the parameters of a solution to the conflict creates around the territorial integrity of Morocco are clearly defined in the framework of the UN, which Calls for a realistic, pragmatic, sustainable and compromise-based regulation.
The minister, on the other hand, stressed that the Sahara issue should not be compared to the situation in the Middle East. “In Palestine, the UN has adopted a resolution calling for a two-state solution. Regarding the Sahara, it is a political process to find a settlement with Algeria,” he said.
Recalling that Israel’s presence in the Palestinian territories is globally recognized as an occupation, Bourita challenged “our brothers in South Africa to find a single UN resolution that qualifies Morocco’s presence in the Sahara as an occupation”.
If South Africa wants to play an honest role, it must recognize these two different positions, Bourita said.
Returning to the African Ministerial Conference on AU Support to the United Nations Political Process on the Regional Dispute over the Moroccan Sahara recently held in Marrakech, Mr. Bourita stressed that this meeting was intended to show that African countries support the position of Morocco and that the Pretoria conference should not be seen as a reference of the African position.
The Marrakech conference also showed that the Pretoria meeting was a way to divide Africa, added the minister, recalling the consensus reached at the 31st AU summit held in Nouakchott, devoting exclusivity of the UN on the Sahara issue and the support and accompaniment that the AU must bring to the UN process.
“Who divides Africa? Who decided that those who oppose Morocco should meet? “Asked the minister, stressing: “Our message was to say that the unit was in Marrakesh and the division was in Pretoria.”
The Sunday Times comments, in this context, that Morocco’s efforts have been successful, especially since the Marrakech conference was marked by the participation of 37 African countries with only 24 announced at the Pretoria conference, including countries like Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.