On August 20, 2017, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI addressed the following speech to the nation on the occasion of the 64th anniversary of the Revolution of the King and the People:
The Revolution of the King and the people, the 64th anniversary of which we are celebrating this year, is more than a national, epic event which brought together a valiant king and a resolute people, seeking Morocco’s independence and the reinstatement of its legitimate leader.
It is a bright chapter in the life of the nation. Its impact and influence reached far beyond the country’s borders and deep into Africa.
Thanks to its spontaneous, popular character, and the values of sacrifice and loyalty underpinning it, it inspired liberation movements in the Maghreb and across Africa.
It also increased awareness of the destiny Morocco shares with the rest of the African continent, as reflected by the common struggle for freedom and independence and, later on, by the founding of independent African states committed to respecting state sovereignty as well as the countries’ national unity and territorial integrity.
This solidarity-based endeavor is continuing today. The aim is to achieve the shared development and prosperity all African peoples are yearning for.
Given the values underpinning that glorious revolution we are commemorating today, it is hardly a surprise that, ever since it gained independence, Morocco has adopted unwavering stances as well as concrete measures in favor of Africa, such as:
• participation in the first peacekeeping operation in the Congo, in 1960;
• the hosting of the first meeting of the African development committee, in Tangier, the same year;
• the setting up, under the 1961 government, of the first Ministry of African Affairs, to back liberation movements.
These earnest efforts for the benefit of African peoples culminated in the 1961 Casablanca Conference, which laid the groundwork for the creation of the Organization of African Unity in 1963.
Therefore, Morocco’s commitment to defending Africa’s causes and interests is not new. It reflects a standard policy consistently carried out by my ancestors, and which I have been proudly and confidently pursuing.
Morocco’s commitment to – and interest in – Africa are by no means a coincidence; nor are they the result of transient considerations. They reflect a sense of loyalty to a shared history and illustrate our firm belief that ours is a common destiny.
They are the result of profound, realistic reflection which is itself governed by a long-term, strategic vision and a gradual, consensual approach.
Our African policy is based on a thorough understanding of African realities, substantiated by more than fifty visits to over 29 countries – 14 of which I have visited since October 2016. That policy is also aimed at serving shared interests through solidarity-based, win-win partnerships.
This tangible policy is best illustrated by the flagship development projects launched, like the Nigeria-Morocco Atlantic gas pipeline project, the construction of fertilizer plants in Ethiopia and Nigeria as well as human development projects designed to improve the living conditions of African citizens, such as the creation of healthcare facilities, vocational training institutions and fishermen’s villages.
As a result of this successful policy, we have managed to strengthen our economic partnerships, ensure Morocco’s return to the African Union and secure the agreement in principle to our request to join the Economic Commission of West African States.
Morocco’s reintegration into the pan-African organization marks a diplomatic watershed moment in our country’s foreign policy.
This major accomplishment, as part of our African policy, was secured despite the obstacles thrown in our way by certain parties. This achievement attests to our African brothers’ and sisters’ perception of Morocco as a credible player – one whom they hold in high esteem.
Following this historic event, I wish to reiterate my thanks and appreciation to all African countries which stood by us – and even those which did not. I am sure the latter will change their position, once they realize the sincerity of our endeavors.
Although our return to the African organization is a highly significant event, it is not an end in itself. Africa was and always will be a top priority for us. What matters, above all, is the continent’s progress and the services provided to African citizens.
As for those who neglect Africa, play down its importance, do not care about its causes or engage in influence peddling, that is their problem, and theirs alone.
As far as Morocco is concerned, Africa is the future. And the future starts today.
Whoever thinks that we did what we did solely to return to the African Union, well, let me simply say they do not know me.
Now is the time for action. And Morocco keenly looks forward to continuing the efforts it has been exerting in Africa for more than fifteen years.
I should point out, in this regard, that Morocco’s return to its African organization will not affect its solid bilateral relations with African nations, nor mutually agreed development programs.
Reintegration into the AU is but the start of a new era of joint action with all African countries in order to build a genuine, solidarity-based partnership, ensure – together – our continent’s development and meet the needs of African citizens.
We are currently in the process of building an Africa that believes in itself, is committed to solidarity and rallies behind concrete projects while being open to its surroundings.
It is this comprehensive vision that led the Kingdom to apply officially to join the Economic Commission of West African States.
I should like, in this respect, to express my thanks to the leaders of ECOWAS Member Countries for agreeing in principle to Morocco’s request to become a full-fledged member.
ECOWAS is a natural extension of the AU. By joining both institutions, Morocco will contribute to economic prosperity and human development on the continent.
This is a historic political decision and a milestone in the endeavors made towards African integration, which can only be achieved through regional blocs, for the latter have become crucial players in international affairs.
Within ECOWAS, the Kingdom of Morocco will seek to lay down the foundations for genuine African integration that serves the continent and fulfils its peoples’ aspirations for development and for a dignified life, in an environment characterized by unity, security and stability.
I have opted for a policy based on solidarity and for balanced partnerships grounded in mutual respect and the fulfilment of African peoples’ shared interests.
Morocco has never engaged in influence peddling. Instead, it has opted to put its expertise and know-how at the disposal of its African brothers and sisters. Money comes and goes, unlike knowledge and skills; it is these that help meet people’s needs.
African peoples understand that. They seek our cooperation and our support for their efforts in many fields – not the other way round.
They also realize that we are keen to build fruitful partnerships with them, based on well thought-out investment and development programs involving the public and private sectors in the countries concerned.
As for those who know the truth, but spread unfounded allegations to the effect that Morocco is spending huge sums of money on Africa instead of devoting those resources to Moroccans, they care little about the country’s interests.
The focus on Africa will not affect our stances, nor will it be at the expense of our national priorities. In fact, it will bring added value to our national economy and will deepen and consolidate our relations with African nations.
Our African policy has had a direct, positive impact on the question of our territorial integrity, be it with regard to states’ positions or the resolutions adopted by the African Union.
This, in turn, has given fresh momentum to the examination of this question at the United Nations Organization.
Whereas 2016 was the year of resolve and intransigence, during which we matched action with words to thwart the schemes designed to impinge on our rights, 2017 has been the year of clarity and of a return to the standards and principles for the settlement of the artificial dispute over the Moroccanness of the Sahara.
This firm, unambiguous policy has helped put the process back on the right track, thereby halting the plots designed to divert it into the unknown.
This was confirmed by the UN Secretary-General’s report as well as the Security Council resolution adopted last April, be it in terms of commitment to the frame of reference for a settlement, the appreciation of the autonomy proposal as a negotiating framework, or the determination of the legal and political responsibilities of the real party concerned in this regional dispute.
The proactive, composed and firm manner in which we settled the Guerguerat crisis thwarted the efforts to change the facts on the ground in our Sahara and helped put to rest the myth of the ‘liberated territories’ peddled by Morocco’s enemies.
In parallel with these developments, international support for the autonomy proposal has continued, as illustrated by the growing number of states which have withdrawn their recognition of the fictional entity and by the legal settlement concerning Morocco’s economic partnership with a number of influential powers.
The 20th August Revolution is more than just a landmark event in Morocco’s history. That event reverberated across the Maghreb and the rest of Africa as well.
We need to draw inspiration today from the values of sacrifice, loyalty and generosity underpinning that event so as to continue to be torchbearers of that revolution, domestically and continentally.
By upholding those values and principles and promoting collective action, we shall be able to rise to the intricate challenges we are facing and thus achieve comprehensive development and enhance the security and stability the peoples in the region are yearning for.
I should like, in this respect, to praise the serious work and effective action undertaken by the Moroccan diplomatic service to defend the country’s best interests, enhance its credibility and increase its influence at the regional, continental and international levels.
I remember, with reverence and emotion, the anniversary of the Royal family’s exile in Madagascar – a country I visited last year.
I saw the sincerity of the Malgasy people’s esteem and affection for the Royal family. There were emotional memories and recollections of human bonds with members of the Royal family, despite the hardships of exile and of life so far away from the homeland.
It is with deep reverence that I wish to honor the memory of our esteemed martyrs, particularly my beloved grandfather, His Majesty King Mohammed V, and his comrade-in-arms, my revered father, His Majesty King Hassan II. May they rest in peace.