In the latest edition of "De Cara al Mundo", on Onda Madrid, we had the participation of Zoubaida El Fathi, journalist and director of the midday news on Moroccan television, who assessed the relations between Spain and Morocco after the High Level Meeting, the first since 2015.
What is your assessment of the outcome of this High Level Meeting?
We are having some very good times between Spain and Morocco, which we Hispanists are experiencing with great intensity. It has been eight years without dialogue between two neighbouring countries. Eight years that have taken their toll on both countries, because when there is no understanding, no collaboration, no channels of communication in which to resolve any problems that may arise, a great many difficulties arise between two neighbouring countries. If problems arise on a daily basis between two neighbours that have to be resolved, imagine between two countries like Morocco and Spain, between two continents like Europe and Africa. So eight years is a long time.
We have been able to witness a moment in which these relations are finally going to be put on a sounder footing, so that we can speak clearly. Some very important points have been made on which it seemed to me that no one was offending anyone. That is something that should be obvious.
Spain and Morocco should know each other very well. I think that part of Morocco knows Spain quite well, but the other way around is not the same. In fact, we are seeing at the moment how many politicians are using prejudices about Morocco to benefit themselves. I think it is time to stop using this country for these purposes, because the Morocco of today is not the Morocco of the past. A great deal of progress has been made.
I am going to tell an anecdote in which I met Nadia Calviño, the Vice-President of the Spanish Government. We greeted each other and she said to me: "I am very impressed, there are many women in the Moroccan government and also journalists". This seemed to me to be a sign that this country is unknown and very little is known about it.
Undoubtedly, this is one of the pending issues: avoiding the clichés and outdated stereotypes that exist in many sectors in Spain. From Atalayar, I invite anyone who wants to know, learn about and express an opinion on Morocco to travel to this country, to talk to Moroccans and to get to know its people better.
It is not enough. I believe that something is being done wrong. It is important that there is another way of communication and that both the Spanish government and the rest of the politicians do their part, because if they don't know, the rest of the Spanish people won't know either. And this influences not only relations between the two countries, but also the integration of Moroccans in Spain and the contacts that may exist between Spain and Morocco in different sectors.
Mohamed VI had a 30-minute conversation with the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez. The fact that he did not receive an audience does not mean that there was any rebuff or that the High Level Meeting is fading away.
Exactly. He was not scheduled to be received by the King because it was not on the agenda. His Majesty the King has another type of agenda in which he is now preparing an important trip. In any case, I don't think it's a vase of cold water, as has been said by many, if not all, of the Spanish press. It is simply an appointment that was already planned, in which the two heads of government were to meet, and that is what happened. There was absolutely nothing new.
Yes, it is a tradition, but traditions are often broken. The Spanish head of government, once appointed as such, did not visit Morocco. His first visit has always been to this country and this time it was not the case. Traditions are broken and things have to change in order to move forward. If we wait for him to receive him, then to deal with and sign agreements as important as the ones that have been signed, it is impossible and we will not make progress.
I wanted to talk about customs in Ceuta. Apart from the political connotations, it is also something positive for traders, to put an end to the black economy and to improve the women who were not the most suitable. I believe that both countries have an interest in the reopening of these customs offices.
A customs house means what it means, but also the images of these women carriers will not be seen again. That is a thing of the past. Morocco is building and doing things in an orderly fashion. We have to take into account that in the last few years and in the middle of the pandemic, more than 600 women have found work and are working in companies both in Nador and around Tetouan and in industrial areas. Therefore, we are not going to see that image that we had before because now things are going to be done better and in an orderly fashion, and I think that is the key word.
What does it mean for Morocco that the Spanish Government supports the autonomy plan for the Sahara presented by Morocco at the United Nations?
I believe that the Sahara issue is now settled. Morocco has put a credible and serious proposal on the table, because when you have to solve something you look for a serious proposal. Moreover, for the Moroccans, the Sahara is simply a dossier supported by many countries, starting with the United States, but what was missing was support from this neighbouring country. That support arrived on 7 April, and I believe that things can only continue to move forward along those lines.
Morocco's 45 billion investment plan offers many opportunities, as well as demonstrating the modernisation process that Mohamed VI has undertaken.
Generating wealth means generating jobs and well-being for the population. I believe that this is the basis for all companies that want to invest in Morocco. Another issue that must be insisted on is respecting the rights of all workers, something that the ministry is already taking care of and which it is providing all the facilities for.