On the development of bilateral cooperation between the Kingdom of Morocco and Ukraine

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The Kingdom of Morocco was among the first states in the Arab world to recognize the independence of Ukraine, in December 30th, 1991. Since the establishment of the diplomatic relations, solid friendly relations based on respect, trust and mutual understanding, were forged between the Kingdom of Morocco and Ukraine. According to the Ukrainian statistics, our bilateral trade volume increased year-over-year, in 2018, by 44.3% and has reached 421.8 Million US$.

It is the development of bilateral cooperation between the Kingdom of Morocco and Ukraine that we are talking about with the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador The Kingdom of Morocco in Ukraine H.E. Faouz El Achchabi.

Your country plays a key role in security and stability in North Africa. How can you describe the eff orts of the Moroccan diplomacy in this area?

The Kingdom of Morocco maintains a strong commitment to promoting stability, peace and security be it on the international or regional levels. The orientations of the Kingdom of Morocco’s foreign policy converge with the principles of the United Nations.

The participation of Morocco to the efforts of the international community to reinforce the peace and security reflects its adhesion to peaceful conflict resolution and to international law through mediation, contribution to peacekeeping operations, political dialogue and cooperative measures for development.

In this regard, and with the dame spirit Morocco took part in the diverse UN Peacekeeping Operations in Africa, in addition to playing the role of mediator in African conflict resolution.

Morocco’s contribution in this field was particularly appreciated through the mediation of His Majesty the King Mohammed VI, in 2007, at the Rabat Summit held by the UN, aimed at stabilizing the Mano River basin and which gave place to trust measures between countries of the Union, bringing on a new dynamic for peace.

Beside this, the action of Morocco is also highlighted by its commitment to peace, democracy, combating terrorism, and advancing regional security and development.

As a stable country in a region afflicted by increasing terrorist activity, Morocco is committed to promoting regional security. Its multifaceted approach to countering terrorism doesn’t include only hard security measures, regional cooperation and intelligence sharing, but also measures to counter violent extremism through legislation, democratic reform, inclusive development and the promotion of both a moderate Islam within its borders and in the African Continent and the promotion of serene relations and mutual understanding with other religions.

In this regard, Morocco has launched, in March 2015, the “Mohammed VI Institute for the Training of Imams, Morchidines and Morchidates”, to teach moderate Islam and permit to next generations of Muslim religious leaders from across the region to be able to counter extremist interpretations of Islam. This Institute is currently training hundreds imams and mourchidates from Africa and Europe.

On the development of bilateral cooperation between the Kingdom of Morocco and Ukraine

The “Foundation for African Oulema”, was also launched, in Morocco in July 2015, as a support for Moroccan and African theologians and scholars in promoting religious tolerance and moderation in the continent.

With regard to migration, and to approach this phenomenon, which is a source of human suffering and insecurity, the Kingdom of Morocco has developed a proactive, considerate and humanistic policy, since it has become in recent years a favorite destination for many illegal migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

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Guided by a spirit of solidarity, and within the framework of its new migration policy based on a humanistic ground, responsible procedures and full respect for the fundamental human rights of migrants and refugees, the Moroccan Government has launched several regularization operations of the situation of thousands of sub-Saharan citizens.

At the level of cooperatives measures for development, the Kingdom of Morocco has initiated with many African countries a rich and diverse bilateral cooperation, based on a true partnership and effective cohesion, in addition to various programs of trilateral cooperation.

Deeply rooted in Africa, and considering Africa as its natural home, Morocco has expanded its economic ties and developed strong bilateral relations with many African countries, mainly through trade and investments.

With the important involvement of Moroccan economic operators and their strong engagement, Morocco became a more prominent investor in the African Continent in the areas of banking, insurance, air transport, telecommunications and housing.

The Kingdom which is now the number one investor in West Africa and the second largest investor on the whole continent has signed, since 2000, nearly thousand agreements with African countries, in various fields of cooperation, involving the public as well as the private sector.

How do you assess the current state of bilateral cooperation between our States?

The Kingdom of Morocco was among the first states in the Arab world to recognize the independence of Ukraine, in December 30th, 1991. The Protocol on the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Morocco and Ukraine was signed in New York, on June 22nd, 1992. The Moroccan Embassy in Kyiv opened in July 2000 and the Ukrainian Embassy in Rabat started its activities in October of the same year.

Since the establishment of the diplomatic relations, solid friendly relations based on respect, trust and mutual understanding, were forged between the Kingdom of Morocco and Ukraine. In the year 2017, we have commemorated the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Diplomatic Relations between our two countries.

To enhance our beneficial cooperation and further develop it for the betterment of our two friendly peoples, high-ranking officials of both sides had many meetings and high level visits where exchanged by both sides.

It is gratifying that our interstate cooperation is built on a solid foundation that has been steadily expanding, encompassing a wide variety of areas of common interest.

We have witnessed more than a quarter century of substantial bilateral relations and multi-faced cooperation between the two countries, with a highlevel political dialogue, close interaction in International Organizations and common vision shared on various regional and international issues.

In that context, steps were taken towards strengthening the economic cooperation, expanding the legal framework and increasing the people to people contacts between Morocco and Ukraine.

To give a strong impetus to their bilateral cooperation, the two countries have encouraged at the political level the creation of parliamentary friendship groups in their respective Parliaments.

At the civil society level, the Friendship Association between Ukraine and Morocco was launched, in Kyiv, in 2017, at the initiative of the Moroccan Embassy.

The legal framework governing the relations between the two countries includes a wide range of agreements covering many important fields of cooperation, while at the same time many other conventions are being finalized.

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In the business field, in spite of prised efforts made by business communities of both sides, economic relations between the two countries still remain below the existing possibilities.

According to the Ukrainian statistics, our bilateral trade volume increased year-over-year, in 2018, by 44.3% and has reached 421.8 Million US$. Ukraine has at the same time exported to Morocco cereals (wheat, barley and corn), nonferrous metals, butter, honey, animal feed, vegetable oil, ammonia, paper and cardboard, furniture etc…, while Morocco exports to Ukraine has consisted in the same year of cars, fish, clothing and footwear, electrical equipment etc…

On the development of bilateral cooperation between the Kingdom of Morocco and Ukraine

In which spheres can Ukraine be interesting for the Moroccan investors, and Morocco – for the Ukrainian ones?

They are many investment opportunities in Morocco in the industry, solar energy, information and communication technologies, tourism, agriculture, fishing industry, logistics and retail.

Foreign investors choose Morocco for its privileged geographical location, its cost competitiveness, its strong and stable macroeconomic performances, its free trade access to one billion consumers around the world, its world-class infrastructure, its qualified labor force, its sectorial plans and constantly improving business Climate, its investment incentives and investors protection etc….

Morocco’s Investment and Trade Agency (AMDIE) was created by the Moroccan government to supports and provides to international projects leader high quality services. It provides a professional and free public service to all investors and offers them a wide range of services in order to set up their business in Morocco through a professional team.

There is from the Moroccan side a real interest in developing trade and investment relations with Ukraine. In April 2018, a delegation of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services of the Souss Massa Region (south of Morocco), has visited Ukraine and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry on cooperation in various fields such as tourism, investment, local products (produits du terroir), agricultural machinery, water management, renewable energies, mining and handicrafts.

Last November, two other Moroccan economic delegations representing the Chamber of Agriculture of the Casablanca-Settat Region and the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services of the Fez-Meknes Region have visited Ukraine and have fruitful meetings with Ukrainian counterparts.

How intensive is cooperation between our countries in the tourism sector?

The field of people-to-people contacts and exchanges is very important and both countries are taking steps to increase them. In recent years, tens of thousands of Ukrainian tourist have visited Morocco.

There is a strong desire from both sides to make their bilateral cooperation in the tourism sector more dynamic through the creation of direct flights between the two countries.

In this regard, a draft agreement on air services is currently under study by competent authorities of the two countries.

The Moroccan National tourist Board, which is the national governmental body in charge of tourism promotion, take part every year in “Ukraine International Travel and Tourism Exhibition”.

On the development of bilateral cooperation between the Kingdom of Morocco and Ukraine

Does your Embassy conduct activities aimed at the popularizing of the Moroccan culture in Ukraine?

The Embassy took part and organised many cultural events with the aim of promoting the Moroccan culture in Ukraine, and to give to the Ukrainian people the opportunity to get acquainted with the Moroccan civilisation, culture, traditions, national costumes and handicraft, culinary art and way of life.

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On the occasion of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Morocco and Ukraine, the Embassy has organized, in “Ukrainsky Dim”, a cultural event which has for title “the Kingdom of Love”, featuring Moroccan music, dances, national costumes and culture.

Also in last November, the Embassy took part in the charity event “The Parade of Nations 2018”, organized by your esteemed magazine “Fashion of diplomacy”, in collaboration with the Ukrainian Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Culture and Information Policy.

At the parade, the representatives of the Embassy where wearing traditional Moroccan costumes and a documentary fi lm on the economic and tourist potentialities of the Kingdom of Morocco was showed to the public during this event.

Furthermore, the Embassy participated last December, to the charity event “the 26th Charity Bazaar”, organized annually in Kyiv by the International Women’s Club. Visitors have discovered through the Moroccan booth, the exquisite taste of the Moroccan dishes as well as the amazing beauty of the Moroccan handicrafts.

On the sidelines of the Embassy’s participation to this event, I have presented in an interview to Ukrainian television the many facets and richness of the Moroccan civilization and culture.

The Embassy contributed in parallel to the success of special programs of some leading hotels in Kyiv, which have decided to serve, for certain periods of time, to their customers inside their restaurants, Moroccan distinctive dishes and delicacies. The Embassy has cooperated with them for the setting up of a typical Moroccan menu.

Representatives of the Embassy took also part to some sport and cultural events organized in Ukraine such as “Wizz Air Kyiv City Marathon” and a chess contest event organised by the Ukrainian Ministry of Youth and Sports.

The Embassy participated also to all “Francophonie” meetings throughout the academic year 2018/2019, dedicated in Ukraine to the French language. The main objective of these meetings was the setting up of an action plan that mobilizes French language actors in Ukraine as widely as possible on visible operations with the aim of increasing interest for the values of “Francophonie”.

I would like to know your impressions of our country. What do you like the most of all in Ukraine?

The Kingdom of Morocco and Ukraine share numerous similarities. Both countries are not only resolved to carve out a distinguished place for themselves in the international arena and committed to implement substantial reforms in order to create a proper environment for a prosperous economy, but share also other similarities since they have historically witnessed a succession of several civilizations that bequeathed them a tremendous cultural diversity.

This ancestral heritage deeply rooted in history is illustrated by both Moroccan and Ukrainian ethnic diversity, traditions, clothing, music etc…

Since my arrival to Ukraine, I had the chance and the pleasure to discover its wonderful people and its charming culture and beautiful way of life.

The endless beauty of the Ukrainian landscapes and the cities’ magnificent architecture also fascinated me.

Above all, I am very much fascinated by the exceptional Ukrainian People kindness.