France denied yesterday the existence of a crisis with Morocco, stressing that the partnership between the two countries is "exceptional." The remark came in response to criticism by Moroccan MPs and an intense anti-Paris media campaign conducted by Moroccan media.
"On the contrary, we have an exceptional partnership and we intend to develop it", French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre said in a press conference.
Reminding of the visit made by French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna to Morocco in December, she said, "It was a very positive visit." Legendre emphasised that President Emmanuel Macron's visit to the Kingdom, scheduled for the first quarter of this year, will be a "milestone."
The Moroccan political class and the media close to the government have severely criticised France following the European Parliament's (EP) adoption of a resolution a week ago. The resolution, which was passed by a large majority, expressed concern over the deterioration of press freedom in the Kingdom.
The EP also expressed "deep concern" about "allegations revealing that the Moroccan authorities may have bribed European MPs."
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France, the former colonial power, has been accused of "orchestrating" an anti-Moroccan campaign in Brussels.
The EP's decision is prepared by "a country we thought was a friend and a reliable partner" Moroccan MP Ahmed Touizi from the Authenticity and Modernity Party (majority) said. "But the smell of gas led to losing its sense," Touizi added alluding to the rapprochement between Paris and Algeria, Rabat's regional rival. The deal could potentially see Paris being handed lucrative gas deals.
Responding to the accusations yesterday, the French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said that "EP exercises its powers independently," and that "France, for its part, holds a deep friendly relationship with Morocco and discusses all issues with it, including human rights."
During the visit by the French Foreign Minister, the two countries appeared to ease tensions by announcing that they support the consolidation of a renewed partnership.
However, negative press articles have multiplied in recent days, to highlight further deterioration in French-Moroccan relations and casted doubt on the upcoming visit by the French president.
Jeune Afrique magazine reported on Wednesday that "mistakes and misunderstandings are growing between Paris and Rabat." The magazine adding that "in facing what it considered to be manifestations of hostility from France, the Moroccan authorities no longer conceal that returning to the normal relations will be difficult."
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