Low-key ties with Italy, hope for Monti, Moroccan ambassador
Morocco’s Ambassador Hassan Abouyoub
(by Elisa Pinna).
(ANSAmed) – ROME, JANUARY 31 – Forty million jobs must be created in North Africa and forty million in the EU within 10-15 years. Eighty million new jobs. This figure alone – Morocco’s ambassador to Italy Hassan Abouyoub points out – underlines the significance of the challenges that lie ahead and shows the need for a real and institutionalised partnership between the two shores of the Mediterranean Sea, after ”the administrative approach and the stream of rhetoric from Brussels.” ”The Mediterranean area holds the future of Europe, the Arab world, Israel and Turkey,” the diplomat told ANSAmed in an interview.
Hassan Abouyoub, a well-known personality in his country and on international level, a humanist who is involved in the dialogue between civilisations, also speaks about the relations between Morocco and Italy. These ties, in his view, have remained at a disappointing level so far, but the ambassador is confident that they will be re-launched, thanks to the commitment shown by the Monti government. The substantial social changes caused by the Arab Spring and the economic crisis and demographic decline that are shedding doubt on many European mechanisms should not be feared, they are ”an extraordinary opportunity to build a new model of relationship in the Mediterranean,” the ambassador explains. Before the crisis and the uprisings, Europe was in fact ”hardly aware” of the interdependence of the two shores. But now it is obvious that ”also Europe depends on what happens on the south side of the Mediterranean.” However, this new approach, ambassador Abouyoub explains, feels the continuous negative impact of ”Europe’s inability to intervene in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” A historic inability, also caused by internal disagreement, which ”has so far paralysed relations with the Arab world.” The relations between Italy and Morocco are also disappointing.
”If I said that they are a good example of cooperation I would be lying,” Abouyoub continued, mocking that he is ”an ambassador, not a diplomat.” ”But,” he continued, ”the Monti government has created a new atmosphere by making the Mediterranean area its priority. This prospect can lead to a new partnership between Italy and Morocco.” Relations between the two countries have suffered from several basic problems, like a lack of ”coordination.” ”They are still based on the model used in the ’60s, without any coordination between Italian and Moroccan companies, between Italian and Moroccan civil society, between universities and cultural bodies.” Looking at the future, ”Morocco can become an important interlocutor for Italy in its relations with the Maghreb and Mediterranean area.” Italy on the other hand, ”thanks to its geographic position, its economic and social structure, its culture and also its mentality, appears to be the country that is best suited to understand the dynamics on the southern side of the Mediterranean. Therefore, Italy and Morocco could lead the way in the construction of a new model of relations between the EU and the southern shore.” But the positive scenarios sketched by the Moroccan ambassador hide a problem: the ”brutal ignorance” that exists in Italy and Europe regarding the Mediterranean and Arab world’s community. ”Words like Islam and Sharia are brandished in the media to strike fear, to generate bias, without taking the reality and the differences between one country and the other into account.” And the Italian information system remains ”absolutely silent” about Morocco.
Therefore few people know about the democratic process that started a long time ago (the one-party system was banned in 1962) and that is making courageous progress, particularly after the constitutional reform that was introduced by King Mohammed VI, in which historic privileges of the Royal Household have been eliminated. ”The President of the Moroccan Council, appointed by the elected majority,” the ambassador added, ”has more power than Italian Premier Mario Monti. But people don’t know that. Foreigners have a right to vote in Morocco, if the same is true in their country. But people don’t know that either. We have a constitution with much freedom for non-governmental organisations, a constitution that recognises its Berber and Jewish roots, apart from its Arab cultural roots.” Morocco has existed as central state for 1400 years now.
It was the first country to recognise the independence of the United States of America, the diplomat pointed out. Today the country is faced with a challenge that is also faced by many other developed countries: ”overcome partitocracy and reinvent democracy from the bottom up, making it a democracy of all people, based on ‘res publica’, the common good.” (ANSAmed).
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