MFA Nasser Bourita receives the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement

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The Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation, and Moroccan Expatriates, Mr. Nasser Bourita received, on March 02nd, 2023, the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Mr. Olivér Várhelyi.

At a joint press conference with the European Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement, Mr. Olivér Várhelyi, Mr. Bourita said that Morocco's relations with the European Union have never been so dense as today. He added: "The year 2023 will be the year of a stronger commitment and ambitions" for the deepening of cooperation relations between the two parties in various areas.

He noted that "over the past three years, we have seen a change in the neighborhood policy towards the southern Mediterranean, with now a greater willingness to listen, a deeper dialogue and a willingness of the southern Mediterranean countries to own the projects we develop".

This partnership, he said, has also deepened at the regional level through pilot projects implemented under this new approach.

Mr. Bourita stressed, moreover, that the partnership between Morocco and the EU has recorded "tangible positive results in 2020 during the crisis of Covid", welcoming the support of the approach initiated by HM King Mohammed VI to address the pandemic and its economic and social consequences.

He expressed the hope that 2023 will be a year of greater commitment and ambition, through the implementation of the financial partnership agreements and the opening of new horizons of cooperation in the areas of security and migration, which will be further strengthened from this year.

Mr. Bourita also voiced the hope that the year 2023 will see the launch of the cooperation program in the field of research and education "Horizon", which is a major element in the field of training and exchanges between universities, as well as the opening to other projects in the area of energy security that concern Morocco and the EU.

The Minister stressed the need to develop a tripartite regional cooperation between Morocco, the European Commission and Israel, as a "complementary element to bilateral cooperation, which will encompass several areas through coordination between the three parties”.

In this regard, he added, "we have prepared a document that we will sign before the end of this month to consolidate the regional tripartite dimension in our relations also, in areas of common interest”.

Mr. Bourita expressed the hope that this year will also be the year of stronger ambitions in new areas, the establishment of new means of cooperation and financing mechanisms and the acceleration of the implementation of strategic projects, adding that Morocco, under the leadership of His Majesty the King, is surely advancing on the path of implementation of its new development model in order to fulfill the aspirations of its citizens.

The reforms undertaken by the Kingdom, under the leadership of HM the King, have enabled it to get out of the gray list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), said the Minister, urging the EU to interact quickly with this news by removing Morocco from the gray list of the Union.

The visit to Morocco of the European Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement is the second of its kind in less than a year, "which confirms the depth, strength and solidity of relations between the Kingdom of Morocco and the European Commission," he said, recalling the last visit to Rabat of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, which was part of the same momentum.

The Minister voiced the hope that this positive spirit and pragmatic approach characterizing relations between Morocco and the European Commission will continue in the long term, so that the partnership transcends mere speeches to take on a concrete dimension, thus contributing to the strengthening of ties between Morocco and the EU within the framework of the good neighbor policy.

For his part, Mr. Várhelyi stressed that Morocco is a flagship country and a pillar of stability in the region, highlighting the extreme importance of the Morocco-EU partnership.

In a global context marked by multiple challenges, it is not easy to find stable partners like Morocco, hence the extreme importance of the Morocco-EU partnership, said Mr. Várhelyi.

The European Commissioner, currently on a working visit to the Kingdom, said that the signing this Thursday by Morocco and the EU of five cooperation programs worth a total of 5.5 billion dirhams (nearly 500 million euros) to support major reform projects in the Kingdom, reflects the direct and serious commitment from the Union to Morocco.

"With all our commitments, we are really changing the nature and depth of our cooperation," he said, adding that the reforms launched in Morocco are ambitious reforms close to European values.

Morocco is and will be a major beneficiary of the EU's project agenda for the entire region, said Mr. Várhelyi, adding that this financial support covers social, economic, agricultural, water and energy aspects, the latter being a crucial sector worldwide.

The Kingdom has the potential to become a source of energy not only for the region but also for Europe, said Mr. Várhelyi, adding that the European market is ready to receive energy from Morocco.

He also stressed the importance of other areas of cooperation between the Kingdom and the EU, including migration and the fight against criminal networks.

Regarding the resumption of relations with Israel, Mr. Várhelyi expressed the EU's willingness to participate in this cooperation, which will help address the major challenges facing the region, including water management.

This trilateral cooperation, he said, will also address the challenges of research, development and rapprochement between peoples.

In addition, the European Commissioner took this opportunity to congratulate Morocco for its exit from the "gray" list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), praising the Moroccan-European cooperation that has allowed to achieve this result.


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