Morocco’s King Strengthens Strategic Partnership with Tunisia, Draws Road Map for Broader Maghreb Integration
* Ten-day visit results in 23 bilateral agreements, praise for Tunisia’s continuing democratic transition *
Washington, DC (June 2, 2014) — Morocco’s King Mohammed VI and a delegation of public and private-sector leaders on Sunday concluded a ten-day official visit to Tunisia — at the invitation of President Moncef Merzouki — that strengthened the two nations’ strategic partnership, reaffirmed close Morocco-Tunisia ties, and created a new impetus for Maghreb integration.
On Saturday, King Mohammed VI addressed Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly, which he said “symbolizes the new Tunisia.” The King praised members for their “untiring efforts” and “spirit of positive compromise” that led to the “crowning achievement” of “a forward-looking Constitution.” He said Morocco stands firm in its unequivocal support of Tunisians’ aspirations for change, and will “always stand by our Tunisian brothers and sisters, in good times and bad.”
To underscore that commitment, the King and President Merzouki on Friday chaired the signing of 23 bilateral agreements on issues including economic development, security, renewable energy, the environment, financial markets, promoting human rights, and also training Tunisian imams in Morocco’s form of tolerant Islam. The King emphasized the importance of strengthening such bonds of cooperation to build a strategic partnership that is a win-win for both nations, supporting Tunisia’s continuing democratic transition and providing “a model for the Maghreb” that opens prospects for broader regional integration.
“The Maghreb region has a date with history it should not miss,” said King Mohammed VI. The King laid out a new road map for the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), established over a quarter of century ago. “The Maghreb Union is no longer a mere option or a political luxury; it has become a pressing popular demand and an inevitable strategic goal in the region,” he said. A reactivated UMA should include a free-trade zone and “free movement of people, services, goods, and capital,” to open up new opportunities for development, job and wealth creation, and make the most of the region’s “vast potential and capabilities.”
The Moroccan King underscored the importance of regional cooperation for “meeting the demands of Maghreb youth, who are our greatest asset,” as well as “security threats looming over the region,” especially “the development and security challenges facing the Sahel and Sahara region.” In their concluding communiqué, King Mohammed VI and President Merzouki said they are determined to continue promoting “sound and exemplary ties” between their two nations as “a major prerequisite” for Maghreb integration.
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