At the opening ceremony of the summit, held in Abidjan on November 29-30, Head of the AU and President of Guinea Alpha Condé and Chairman of the AU commission Moussa Faki paid a vibrant tribute to Morocco and to King Mohammed VI for his African leadership as evidenced by his participation in the summit.
Morocco, the closest African country to Europe, is poised to play the role of a bridge between the AU-EU notably in issues of extreme concern to both parties, such as migration and economic development.
The North African Kingdom is also the African country with whom the EU maintains the closest and most multilayered ties. Morocco has received an Advanced Status in its ties with the EU with whom it has close economic ties and deep cooperation on security issues and migration control.
As for Africa, Morocco has forged close human, economic and cultural ties with numerous countries. Morocco is also adopting a proactive African foreign policy underpinned by a south-south cooperation approach that earned Morocco respect and support in Africa leading to its triumphal return to the African Union and an upcoming membership in the ECOWAS.
The win-win projects launched by Morocco and a group of Africa’s fastest growing economies such as Rwanda, Ethiopia, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal are reflective of an active solidarity spearheaded by King Mohammed VI.
The gas pipeline project, signed between Morocco and Nigeria, to channel Nigerian gas up to Europe is a flagship project that puts Morocco on the spotlight of EU-African relations.
In this respect, the attendance of the King in the EU-AU summit shows that the empty seat policy is over and that Morocco will defend its interests and make its voice heard regarding its strategic interests.
The presence of the Polisario in the event is viewed by Morocco as an anomaly at odds with international law. Anyways, such a ceremonial presence is insignificant, as two-thirds of the AU member countries do not recognize the phony SADR republic while no country in the EU has ties with the Algerian-based militia.
As the alliance of the Polisario proponents erodes in the continent with the collapse in Zimbabwe of Mugabe’s regime and the impending erosion of the ideological ties feeding into the Polisario separatist thesis, support for Morocco’s territorial integrity grows in tandem with its south-south cooperation approach in the continent.
The participation of the King in the event sends a strong message that Morocco will not leave its chair empty and that its political, economic and cultural weight are incomparable with a puppet state whose strings are pulled by the military regime in Algeria.