Moroccan King Mohammed VI has expressed a desire to restart dialogue with neighbouring Algeria, calling the division between the two countries an “unreasonable situation [that] is utterly inconsistent with the brotherly bonds uniting our peoples”.
Delivering a speech marking the 43rd anniversary of the Green March, commemorating the mass demonstration of Moroccans calling for Spain to cede control of the Western Sahara, the king devoted significant attention to Moroccan-Algerian relations.
He reflected on the two countries’ shared history, highlighting that Morocco had supported the Algerian resistance against French colonialism.
“Let me point out – and God is my witness – that soon after I acceded to the throne, I asked earnestly and in good faith that the borders between our two countries be opened and that Moroccan-Algerian relations be normalised,” he continued.
Algeria’s border with Morocco has been closed since 1994 after Morocco announced a new visa requirement for Algerians following the Marrakech terrorist attack thought, at the time, to have been perpetrated by Algiers.
The king expressed his country’s readiness for “a direct and frank dialogue” with Algeria “to settle the transient and objective differences impeding the development of relations between the two countries.”
He suggested the establishment of a joint political and mutually agreed upon mechanism for dialogue and consultation, particularly on regional and international challenges, including migration and the fight against terrorism.
“I should like to stress that Morocco is willing to consider the proposals or initiatives Algeria may want to offer in this regard so as to break the stalemate in the relations between the two neighbours and sister nations.”
He concluded by praising the strength between the people of Morocco and Algeria, vowing to mend ties in the future.
“Given our warm feelings towards the Algerian people and leadership, and the esteem in which we hold them, we shall spare no effort in Morocco to build our bilateral relations on the solid foundations of trust, solidarity and neighbourliness.”
Relations between Morocco and Algeria have been strained for many years in the decades since the two countries gained independence.
A year after expelling the French, Algerian forces battled Moroccan fighters in the Sand War over the eastern border near Figuig. The war ended in February 1964 as a result of the mediation of third parties, mainly the US, the Arab League and the Union of African Unity.
Borders were subsequently declared in 1972, but tensions have remained over the status of the Western Sahara region.
The UN has invited Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the Polisario Front, a Western Sahara independence movement, for a new round of talks in Geneva on the conflict in the desert region, due to start in December.