In a message addressed Wednesday to the 5th African Union-European Union summit convened in Abidjan Nov.29-30, the Moroccan Sovereign stressed the importance of partnership between Africa and Europe, saying it is no longer the time now for diagnoses or useless controversies.
“The time now is for action. It is essential that the courageous, responsible dialogue between former colonizer nations and former colonized countries remain frank and direct. Today, fresh impetus needs to be injected into it”, said the Monarch, whose first participation in the AU-EU summit was acclaimed by African and European heads of state as well as by AU and EU officials.
He went on to say that the EU and the AU are two essential and inevitable regional groupings which are important to each other, noting that solidarity between Europe and Africa is built on shared responsibility and mutual dependence.
“Both Africa and Europe must rise, together, to inevitable challenges through shared competitiveness, co-localization of productive businesses, regulated human mobility and fruitful cultural exchanges”, added the Sovereign.
He called on European countries to reconsider the conditionality of the debt, saying that Western countries expect some African countries, which gained independence less than half a century ago, to perform in politics and the economy as optimally as they themselves do.
Dealing with the issue of migration, he said that relations between Africa and Europe have always been marked by population movement and migratory flows, and deplored that tens of thousands of African migrants try, each day, to reach Europe, often putting their lives at risk.
“Because of their geographical location, some countries have become a land of immigration. This has been the case for Morocco from the very beginning – and more so since the country’s independence. It has always been the target of several waves of migration: our European and Maghreb partners know this only too well”, stressed the King.
In Africa, the concept of borders emerged after the independence era. During the post-colonial period, “the management of migration issues has only been moderately successful; migration has systematically been perceived not as a source for solutions and opportunities, but rather as a threat and a source of desperation”, explained the Moroccan Sovereign.
“There was a time when migration was connected with commercial travel and religious pilgrimages, or was the consequence of conflict and pandemics”, but today “it has taken on a negative connotation, since it is being associated with drugs and other trafficking – even with the damaging effects of climate change”, said the Monarch, citing in this regard the case of Libya, a new crossing point between Africa and Europe, which has become the corridor of all evils, epitomizing all types of misfortunes.
“We are deeply shocked by the atrocious practices reported by the media and currently plaguing migrants in our region. This is an utter denial of humanity”, said the King, referring to the sale of migrants in an auction in a Libyan center for $400.
He said one would be tempted to blame Europeans for fearing a massive influx and seeing it as a threat, but unfortunately, these fears are not always baseless.
According to King Mohammed VI, regional groupings could have dealt with the situation more effectively. In fact, “one could rightly think that if the Arab Maghreb Union had really existed, we would have been stronger in the face of such a challenge”, he deplored. AMU (gathering Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia) has been crippled by regional conflicts, leaving migrants often fall prey to different trafficking networks, ranging from drug trafficking to terrorist networks, he said.
King Mohammed VI, in his quality as the African leader who was put in charge of the question of migration, announced that he would submit proposals to the AU coming summit to chart a real African Agenda on migration.
Morocco is thus spearheading an initiatives aiming at reaching a paradigm change in how migration is tackled on the continent.
The guiding line is to depart from the security approach in addressing migration issues in favor of a humanistic approach focusing on opportunities and common management.
Late last October, Morocco hosted a meeting on the migration issue aimed at garnering support for the adoption of a common African stance on the “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration,” to be adopted in 2018.