Sahara: Switzerland supports Morocco’s “serious and credible” efforts for reaching lasting political solution

Switzerland has commended Morocco’s “serious and credible” efforts aimed at reaching a lasting political settlement to the Sahara issue, saying the autonomy plan proposed by the North African Kingdom offers a realistic solution to this regional dispute.

Speaking to journalists at the end of a working meeting he held Friday in Rabat with his Moroccan peer Nasser Bourita, Swiss foreign minister Ignazio Cassis said his country reiterates “the importance of the serious and credible efforts made by Rabat to advance a peaceful political solution based on compromise” to the Sahara question.

“It’s time for this dispute to be settled. This issue has been going on for too long,” underlined Mr. Ignazio, reaffirming his country’s backing to the efforts engaged by the United Nations and the UN secretary-general’s personal envoy, Staffan de Mistura, to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution to the Sahara issue in accordance with international law and the relevant Security Council resolutions.

Moroccan ties have become even stronger and more diversified since the two countries signed a joint declaration 18 months ago. “Our partnership is very strong, and we are already reaping the tangible benefits from our joint efforts”, said a delighted Cassis and his Moroccan counterpart at the end of their working meeting.

Since the two countries signed a joint declaration, there have been a number of results. In November 2022, Switzerland and Morocco signed a bilateral agreement on climate cooperation at COP27 in Egypt. The agreement is intended to help Switzerland reach its climate targets via emissions offsetting while boosting Swiss investment in Morocco and scaling up cooperation in sustainable development projects as well, said the office of Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis in a press release.

A memorandum of understanding on scientific cooperation signed by the two countries in 2022 has also led to around 10 joint academic research projects between Swiss and Moroccan institutions. In addition, the two foreign ministers welcomed the forthcoming creation of a Swiss–Moroccan permanent joint migration group, which will enable exchange and cooperation in this field. Morocco is a major host and transit country on the migration route to Europe, the press release said.

The outlook regarding recent developments in the Middle East, North Africa and the African continent as a whole was a focal point for the talks. The two ministers reviewed where Swiss and Moroccan efforts share common ground, particularly in the Libyan peace process, the crisis in Sudan, and challenges in the Sahel.

Switzerland and Morocco are connected by its geographical proximity to Europe and by cultural ties, including the French language. In 2021, the two countries celebrated the centenary of Switzerland’s diplomatic presence in Morocco. The first Swiss representation was opened in Casablanca in 1921.

Mr Cassis and Mr Bourita also highlighted the excellent developments in economic relations between the two countries, Morocco being Switzerland’s second-largest trading partner in North Africa and its third-largest export market on the African continent. Bilateral trade continued to rise in 2022, reaching around CHF 780 million. More than 60 Swiss companies are based in Morocco, generating almost 8,000 jobs in cutting-edge sectors such as agri-food, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, as well as precision machinery and instruments.

The Federal Councillor’s visit coincides with a trip of a delegation of Swiss MPs to Morocco to discuss cooperation prospects with Moroccan lawmakers and latest developments on the regional & international scene.

Head of the Moroccan-Swiss parliamentary friendship group, Khadija Oulbacha said relations between the two countries are based on mutual respect, friendship and shared values of democracy, human rights, and global peace.

“Switzerland is one of Morocco’s most important economic partners,” she said, praising the Swiss investment made in several Moroccan sectors and the role of parliamentary diplomacy in strengthening partnership between the two countries. She also thanked Switzerland for its supportive stand of Morocco’s territorial integrity.

For her part, MP Latifa Chérif, member of the Moroccan-Swiss friendship group, said talks with Swiss peers focused on political dialogue and partnership between the two countries in various sectors including renewable energies, health, technologies, scientific research, biotechnology, sustainable development…

Source: The North Africa Post

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