The Steering Committee of the “5+5 Defense” Initiative started this Wednesday, in Rabat, a two-day meeting to discuss preparations for the upcoming gathering of the Defense ministers of member countries scheduled to be held in the Moroccan capital on Dec.16.
The representatives of France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal and Spain are taking part in this 35th meeting of the steering committee. They will review the 2022 activities carried out by member countries of the defense initiative, the 2023 action plan and the draft joint declaration to be adopted by the Defense ministers at the end of their meeting in Rabat.
In a speech delivered on his behalf by Brigadier General Mohamed Haial, at the opening of the Steering Committee meeting, Lieutenant General Belkhir El Farouk, Inspector General of the FAR and Commander of the South Zone, stressed that the Moroccan Army will spare no effort for the success of activities included in the action plans jointly agreed upon, to consolidate the spirit of cooperation that underlies the Initiative.
It is only through the synergy of efforts that “we could contribute to anticipate together” the security issues and potential transnational risks in our geographical space, explained Lieutenant General Belkhir El Farouk.
General Belkhir El Farouk commended the efforts of all member countries that actively contribute to the dynamism of this Initiative which is a privileged space for dialogue, mutual trust, reflection and sharing of experience in security and defense matters and promotes synergies between the armies of both shores of the Mediterranean.
The regional context is characterized by “multiple threats and challenges that weigh on our space” and are related to terrorism, illegal immigration, cybercrime, trafficking of all kinds, pandemics and instability in the Sahel, he said, noting that these are further amplified by the impact of climate change and the repercussions of the war between Russia and Ukraine, particularly in terms of energy and food.”
This situation “calls us to further coordinate our action to perpetuate the 5 + 5 Defense Initiative,” through the consolidation of cooperation and synergy of efforts to achieve the desired objectives, he said.
In 2022, member countries of this regional defense initiative conducted several military drills and benefited from training and advanced research work carried out by the “5+5 Defense” College and the Euro-Maghreb Center for Research & Strategic Studies.
In the draft action plan 2023, the Royal Armed Forces offer to host a Search & Rescue Exercise (SAREX), two training courses, three seminars and naval coordination group meeting.
A statement released by the Royal Armed Forces says this shows Morocco’s strong commitment to the “5+5 Defense Initiative” which seeks to foster cooperation and understanding between the two shores of the Western Mediterranean.