The Kingdom of Morocco’s House of Representatives recently adopted two Bills demarcating Morocco’s territorial waters and establishing the Kingdom’s jurisdiction over its maritime boundaries.

This was confirmed by Moroccan Ambassador to South Africa, H.E Youssef Amrani this week.

He said the first Bill is dealing with the demarcation of Morocco’s territorial waters, the second establishes an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles off the Moroccan coast. “The demarcation of maritime boundaries, which complies with the International Law of the Sea, is designed to enable Morocco to better monitor the circulation of vessels and ships in its waters, ensure sailing safety in the area and protect the environment. The Bills will also put an end to the speculations concerning Morocco’s sovereignty over its territorial waters off the Sahara, in full compliance with the UN law of the sea convention,” said the Ambassador adding that the Kingdom remains open to a constructive dialogue with Spain in case of overlaps.

Recalling that the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs recently paid a visit to Morocco, the Ambassador underscored the strong and strategic partnership linking the two Kingdoms.

On Morocco’s Return to the AU

Meanwhile, the Kingdom of Morocco has reiterated its commitment to playing its part in building up a stronger African Union (AU) that prides itself on stability and mutually shared continental ambitions. Morocco rejoined the AU on January 2017 after withdrawing in 1984 following the Organization of African Union(OAU)'s acceptance of the “Western Sahara” as a member state.

Ambassador Amrani said Morocco had always remained committed to the development and prosperity of Africa and its citizens and continues to pledge its commitment in bringing about peace, unity and progress to the continent.

“Morocco left AU but never left Africa. Morocco is an African country, not only by geography but by developmental aspirations, economic and by spiritual ties and links that binds Morocco with other African countries. We see an added value in building up a strong AU with stability and ambition. Today, Morocco and, especially South Africa, share the same ambition of - as the SA president Cyril Ramaphosa has recently said that SA is chairing the AU summit - working together. The most important thing for Africa right now is how to create jobs, promote economic development and respond to the expectations of our younger generation. Our priority is to promote and strengthen stability, peaceful settlement of conflicts, and we need to – as many countries are doing – respond faster to challenges of terrorism, malnutrition and economic development,” said Ambassador Amrani.

Morocco has been committed to enhancing its relationships in Africa. Morocco has engaged in regional diplomacy to counter violent extremism, increase trade and investment; and promote economic and human development projects; and as a means of promoting stability and security throughout the continent.

Morocco’s re-joining of the AU was a crowning achievement of His Majesty the King Mohammed VI’s diplomatic efforts, wherein a key priority has been fostering relations with neighboring countries in West and Central Africa.

His Majesty, King Mohammed VI called the return of Morocco to the AU coming back home. The King has made over 50 visits to African countries, resulting in cooperation agreements on economic, political, security, and educational issues. At the 28th African Union Summit, 39 of 54 member states agreed to admit Morocco to the pan-African organization, AU, after a 33-year hiatus. Morocco is a founding member of the OAU, which transformed into the AU.

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On the Sahara issue

On the Sahara issue, Ambassador Amrani emphasized Morocco’s commitment to a peaceful solution for this regional dispute, working in close cooperation with the concerned parties. The Ambassador shared the long route to Morocco’s independence from Spanish and French colonization, though gradual, long, difficult dialogue and negotiations. He said Morocco remained guided by ethos of international law, norms and principles, further indicating that during the process of decolonization, there was no entity which claimed to be separated from Morocco. Morocco is not colonizing the Sahara nor is the Sahara the last colony in Africa.

He dismissed such allegations as ahistorical, misleading, and a legal absurdity which detracts attention from the real issues.

Ambassador Amrani further said that the Sahara issue is a regional dispute dealt with within the UN. “The United Nations Security Council’s relevant resolutions leave no room for personal interpretations or ideological influences. The objectives are clear, the parameters are defined, and the means are provided.

Following the recognition of the non-inapplicability of a referendum the UN called for since 2004 the parties must work toward a political solution based on realism, durability, practicability and compromise,” he said.

He further stated that these new paradigms are fully aligned with Morocco’s Autonomy Initiative, whose seriousness and credibility have been recognized by the Security Council and the international community, pointing out that:

“The Moroccan proposal is thus a solution that is:

  • Realistic, because it addresses the actual socio-economic and political situation in Morocco’s Southern Province
  • Practicable, based on its inclusiveness and its ownership by the populations of the Sahara in their political, tribal, generational, professional and gender components;
  • Enduring, because of the approach based on peace, stability and economic integration for the entire the sub-region of the Maghreb.
  • Based on compromise and integration, because it embodies the compromise that Morocco decided to go for in order to reach a solution to this dispute, by reconsidering the positions it held at the beginning of the regional dispute.”

“We need strong, democratic states. Morocco is committed to the UN-led process with a constructive spirit as it seeks a definitive end to the regional conflict,” he said.