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  1. #43
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    Lundi 23 Juin 2008 -- Le ministre délégué, chargé des affaires maghrébines et africaines, Abdelkader Messahel, a laissé le sentiment que l’affaire de l’ouverture des frontières selon la vision du royaume chérifien ne figure pas dans l’agenda des autorités algériennes.

    Messahel a répondu, hier, lors du forum de la télévision, aux thèses marocaines relayées ces derniers temps par plusieurs responsables dans le royaume en déclarant : « l’Algérie considère que le règlement de cette question doit se faire dans le cadre d’une vision complète sur les deux niveaux : bilatéral et régional ».

    Messahel a indiqué que le Maroc n’est pas capable de sécuriser la bande frontalière, en assurant que les revenus du royaume provenant des opérations de contrebande ont atteint 2 milliards de dollars. Il est connu que l’Algérie reproche à Rabat de ne pas prendre de mesures pour l’arrêt du trafic d’armes et de hachis. Messahel a précisé que « le volume des échanges commerciaux entre les deux pays a atteint 570 millions de dollars » et ce chiffre dépasse le volume des échanges de l’Algérie avec la Tunisie, la Libye et même l’Egypte présente en force en Algérie.

    Par ailleurs, les chiffres sur la circulation des personnes montre une autre vérité, selon Massahel, car 550 000 Algériens ont visité le Maroc en 2007 et 45 000 Marocains résident en Algérie, de plus, « il y a des vols quotidiens entre Alger et Casablanca, malgré la fermeture des frontières ».

  2. #44
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    RABAT, July 30, 2008 (Reuters) - Morocco's King Mohammed called on Algeria on Wednesday to normalise ties between the North African neighbours, saying their closed border was a "collective sanction" for the two peoples.

    Government officials in Rabat have been urging Algeria to improve relations since Morocco and Western Sahara's Polisario independence movement, backed by Algeria, ended a fourth round of talks near New York in March without narrowing differences on Africa's longest-running territorial dispute.

    But it is the first time this year that King Mohammed appealed directly Algiers to re-open the border and mend ties. Morocco's government regards thawing ties with Algeria as the key to ending the deadlock over the dispute with Polisario.

    "We will pursue efforts to take initiatives in all sincerity and listen to all efforts of good will so as to restore normal relations between Morocco and Algeria," Mohammed said in a speech marking the ninth anniversary of him coming to the throne. Algeria closed the border in 1994 after Rabat accused its security forces of involvement in a Marrakesh hotel shooting.

    Algerian leaders have repeatedly said the border would remain shut until the two governments agreed on a "package of deals" that include a solution to the Western Sahara conflict as well as measures to fight jointly terrorism and drugs smuggling.

    Morocco took control of most of Western Sahara in 1975 when colonial power Spain withdrew, prompting a guerrilla war for independence that lasted until 1991 when the United Nations brokered a ceasefire and sent in peacekeepers. The desert territory with a population of 260,000 on Africa's Atlantic coast has phosphates, rich fisheries and, potentially, offshore oil. Rabat is trying to encourage the Polisario to accept its plan for Western Sahara to be an autonomous part of Morocco. Polisario proposes a referendum among ethnic Sahrawis that includes an option of independence.

    No state recognises Morocco's rule over Western Sahara but the U.N. Security Council is divided. Some non-aligned states back Polisario but main powers like France and the United States support Morocco. "Whatever the differences of view over this conflict, they would not justify the continuing closure of the border. This unilateral measure is experienced as a collective sanction incompatible with historic brotherly links and at odds with the requirement of a common future and the necessity of the integration of the Maghreb region," Mohammed said.

    Moroccan officials and economists say Morocco has been losing up to $1 billion per year in trade and tourism revenue because of the closed border. In Algiers, government officials have dismissed Rabat's assertion that the closure hindered movements of goods and people between the countries, saying that Morocco is Algeria's biggest trade partner in the Maghreb region despite the land border shutdown.

  3. #45
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    Mercredi 30 Juillet 2008 -- Le roi du Maroc Mohammed VI a fustigé mercredi la fermeture par l'Algérie de sa frontière avec le royaume depuis 1994 en dépit des appels répétés de Rabat à son voisin. «Les différences de points de vue dans ce conflit (du Sahara occidental) ne sauraient justifier la poursuite de la fermeture des frontières», a-t-il déclaré à Fés dans on discours marquant le 9e anniversaire de son accession sur le trône. "Cette mesure unilatérale est vécue par les deux peuples comme une sanction collective incompatible avec leurs liens de fraternité historique, les exigences de leur avenir commun et les impératifs de l'intégration maghrébine", a-t-il ajouté.

    Alger met comme condition à la réouverture de la frontière la résolution globale des contentieux en suspens, y compris le conflit du Sahara occidental. La frontière terrestre entre les deux pays a été fermée en 1994 à la suite d'un attentat islamiste à Marrakech que Rabat avait imputé aux services secrets algériens. Rabat avait alors décidé de mettre en place des visas pour les ressortissants algériens en visite au Maroc. Alger, en représailles, avait fermé ses frontières avec le Maroc. Les visas ont été supprimés par le Maroc en 2005 puis par l'Algérie en 2006, mais la frontière est restée fermée.

  4. #46
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    Jeudi 31 Juillet 2008 -- Dans un discours prononcé à Fès, à l’occasion du 9e anniversaire de son accession au trône et publié intégralement par l’agence de presse officielle MAP, le roi Mohammed VI a laissé entendre que la fermeture de la frontière est liée à la question du Sahara occidental. Il a déclaré : « Quelles qu’elles soient, les différences de points de vue dans ce conflit ne sauraient justifier la poursuite de la fermeture des frontières. » Pour lui, « cette mesure unilatérale est vécue par les deux peuples comme une sanction collective incompatible avec leurs liens de fraternité historique, les exigences de leur avenir commun et les impératifs de l’intégration maghrébine ».

    Mohammed VI a néanmoins « réaffirmé » sa volonté « de poursuivre sa politique de la main tendue pour rapprocher les points de vue et aplanir les différends, consolider la confiance par le dialogue et parvenir à une réconciliation totale et globale avec toutes les parties concernées », précisant qu’il entend « continuer, à cet effet, à prendre des initiatives en toute sincérité et d’être à l’écoute de toutes les bonnes volontés, pour rétablir des relations normales entre le Maroc et l’Algérie, et bâtir un partenariat constructif avec ce pays voisin et frère. Ce vœu procède naturellement de notre attachement fidèle aux liens de bon voisinage qui unissent nos deux peuples frères ».

    Le roi du Maroc a expliqué que son objectif est de « répondre aux ambitions des jeunes générations qui souhaitent voir les ressources et potentialités des peuples frères marocain et algérien, déployées et mises en œuvre pour relever les vrais défis du développement et de la complémentarité, au lieu de les engloutir dans les gouffres d’un conflit légué par un passé révolu ». Néanmoins, le monarque marocain a mis en garde l’Algérie contre ce qu’il a appelé « toute tentative visant à imposer le fait accompli ou à porter atteinte à son intégrité territoriale ».

    Ces déclarations laissent perplexe et dénotent justement le refus du Maroc de reconnaître les vrais raisons qui ont poussé à la fermeture des frontières. La question du Sahara occidental est loin d’être l’élément déclencheur de cette décision. Pour rappel, l’Algérie a fermé ses frontières terrestres avec le royaume après les attentats contre l’hôtel Atlas Asni, à Marrakech, en août 1994, lorsque les autorités marocaines ont affiché une volonté évidente de faire porter toute la responsabilité des événements à l’Algérie à travers l’instauration brutale du visa pour les Algériens, suivie par une véritable opération de chasse aux Algériens, y compris parmi ceux qui y vivaient légalement depuis des années. Des centaines de nos compatriotes, dont des femmes et des enfants, ont été évacués manu-militari des hôtels, maisons et lieux publics vers la frontière.

    La plupart étaient des touristes surpris par les décisions brutales de Rabat. Spoliés de leurs biens, n’ayant même pas eu le temps de ramasser leurs effets personnels, ils ont été chassés du territoire chérifien comme de vulgaires délinquants. Une bavure contre laquelle Alger a réagi en imposant le principe de la réciprocité pour l’instauration du visa et la fermeture de la frontière. Des années plus tard, les auteurs de cet attentat se sont révélés être tous des Marocains. Mais le Maroc n’a pas pour autant changé sa position. Plus grave, les terroristes ont réussi à installer de nombreux camps d’entraînement sur le territoire marocain, non loin de la frontière, et ont servi pour la plupart des filières de trafic d’armes en provenance de l’Europe et à destination des maquis du GIA.

    Les révélations de repentis ayant transité par ces campements ont levé le voile sur la permissivité des services du royaume à l’égard des terroristes algériens. L’ancien ministre de la Défense, le général-major Khaled Nezzar, avait dans son livre mémoire, fait état d’informations capitales sur la passivité des autorités marocaines face à la multiplication des camps d’entraînement du GIA sur la bande frontalière. A ce jour, le Maroc refuse de reconnaître cette vérité amère qui a conduit, faut-il le préciser, à le priver d’une manne financière importante engrangée par les millions de touristes algériens qui lui rendaient visite chaque année. En 2007, à titre d’exemple, 550 000 Algériens se sont rendus au Maroc en dépit d’une frontière terrestre fermée. Ouverte, celle-ci aurait été un gisement considérable de rentrées en devises pour le royaume. Mais elle restera certainement fermée tant que le passif entre Alger et Rabat ne sera pas clairement identifié et résolu et dans lequel, la question sahraouie n’est qu’un détail.

    Repères

    30 août 1994, Rabat accuse Alger d’être responsable des attentats contre un hôtel à Marrakech, fréquenté par des touristes espagnols, prétexte pour expulser touristes et ressortissants algériens du Maroc et l’instauration de visa d’entrée. L’Algérie réagit en imposant le visa et ferme les frontières.

    Juillet 1999, décès de Hassan II, Bouteflika assiste à l’enterrrement.

    Avril 2001, Ahmed Midouni, ministre de l’Intérieur marocain, est reçu à Alger

    2002, Zerhouni se rend au Maroc, suivi en 2003 de Abdelaziz Belkhadem, alors ministre des Affaires étrangères

    Juin 2004, le Maroc supprime le visa pour les Algériens

    En 2005 Mohammed VI se rend à Alger pour prendre part aux travaux du 17e Sommet arabe. Il rencontre en tête-à-tête Abdelaziz Bouteflika

    Avril 2005, l’Algérie supprime le visa pour les Marocains en application du principe de réciprocité.

    21 mai 2008, le ministère des Affaires étrangères marocain supplie Alger de rouvrir les frontières.

  5. #47
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    July 31, 2008 (afrol News) -- In a speech celebrating the ninth anniversary of his accession to the Moroccan throne, King Mohammed VI saluted "the readiness" of his armed forces, especially on the borders, when addressing the strained relations with neighbouring Algeria.

    The Moroccan King dedicated a great part of his speech to his country's relations with Algeria and the Western Sahara conflict, which is among the root causes for the poor relations between the two neighbours.

    As particularly noted by Moroccan state media, Mohammed VI saluted the readiness of his armed forces, on the borders especially, saying that Morocco will "reject any attempt to force a fait-accompli or to touch to its sovereignty." This statement, as Moroccan media point out, "came right after he seemed to blame Algeria for keeping its borders closed."

    The King however invited Algerian authorities to find a solution to the conflict and improve neighbourly ties. Mohammed VI called for establishing "a constructive partnership" with Algeria in order to respond to the "ambitions" of Moroccan and Algerian youth. "Morocco will continue to extend its hand for reconciliation and to establish trust in dialogue and total reconciliation with all parties concerned," the King said.

    Mohammed VI strongly criticised Algeria for keeping its borders closed since 1994, shaming it for its "mass punishment" of both peoples. "We will continue to take sincere initiatives and to reply to goodwill gestures in order to normalise Moroccan-Algerian relations," he said. "The closing of the border separating between both countries is a collective punishment not in line with the historical links established between both countries and their future," added the Moroccan King.

    However, his proposals for a solution to the Algerian-Moroccan conflict are seen as bringing nothing new, as he claimed the two countries were wasting their efforts "in the labyrinths of a conflict inherited from past times." Referring to the conflict over Western Sahara, which Morocco has occupied since 1976, the King urged Algeria to stop focusing on "these differences in opinions."

    Algeria however remains the staunch supporter of Polisario Front, the independence movement that first fought Spanish colonial powers, then Moroccan occupiers in the Western Sahara territory. Western Sahara, which is a full-fledges member of the African Union, has established its exiled government on Algerian soil.

    The Moroccan King made it clear that he has nothing to give when it comes to find a negotiated solution to the Western Sahara conflict. "The priority that tops all other priorities is to achieve the unity of the kingdom's soil," Mohammed VI's opening words on the issue were, again emphasising that he would accept no other solution that a Moroccan annexation of Western Sahara. He called the "illusion of separation" a mere "fantasy".

    Algeria should join what King Mohammed VI called "the growing international support of the kingdom's right to rule its Sahara." Morocco has spent the last 17 years of a UN-brokered ceasefire with Polisario to modernise its armed forces, and the King emphasised that the army would "reject any attempt" to force it to abandon "its sovereignty" over Western Sahara.

  6. #48
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    August 5, 2008 -- King Mohammed VI renewed Morocco's call for open land borders with neighbouring Algeria on Wednesday (July 29th) during his Throne Day address to the public.

    "We will continue to take honest initiatives and respond to all goodwill intentions in order to normalise Moroccan-Algerian relations," the king said in his speech.

    The land border between Morocco and Algeria was closed in 1994 after Morocco blamed Algeria for bombings in the city of Marrakech and imposed visa requirements on Algerian citizens wishing to visit Morocco.

    "Our ultimate objective," the king added, "is to respond to the aspirations of the new generations in order to harness the potential of both Moroccan and Algerian peoples... instead of wasting them in the labyrinths of some handed-down conflict that dates back to a bygone era."

    In March and May this year, Morocco issued calls to re-open the border. Moroccan businesses, particularly those located in the eastern part of the country near the border, have suffered from the closure.

    Algeria recently expressed a desire to rekindle neighbourly relations between the two countries.

    In his message congratulating the Moroccan monarch on the ninth anniversary of his accession to the throne, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika voiced his "unwavering intent to restore warmth to the sisterly relations binding both nations".

    Algeria has said in the past, however, that the re-opening of the border must be initiated as part of a comprehensive agreement between the two countries which, among other issues, resolves the conflict over the status of Western Sahara.

    "Regardless of the different viewpoints in any conflict," the king said, "this is no justification to keep borders closed."

    Referring to the stalled Arab Maghreb Union, the king added that "the union of our nations into a bloc would make them a robust pole for security, stability, progress and prosperity, as well as an active member in larger blocs".

    Some Algerian officials have said publicly that re-opening the border would cause problems for Algeria.

    "While subsidized food supplies are smuggled out to be sold in Morocco," former Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadam said, Algeria "receives drugs, alcohol and faked substances from the latter that are hazardous to citizens’ health and to the economy of the homeland."

    Some Algerian political parties, however, said in June that they hope to change the minds of the authorities in Algiers.

    Said Saadi, head of the opposition party Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD), denounced Algeria’s stance.

    "While insisting on keeping borders closed with Morocco," Saadi said, Algeria has asked the EU to permit Algerians to move freely across Europe's borders.

    Keeping the land borders closed, Sadi added, shows "Algeria’s determination not to allow any contacts that can create democratic dynamism among political and social activists in the region".

    Karim Tabou, first secretary of the opposition Front of Socialist Forces (FFS), also called in June for the border to re-opened.

    "[R]e-opening borders with Morocco is an important issue and in every sense essential to the building of an Arab Maghreb that would transcend geographic borders," he said.

    Referring to the EU and the nascent Union for the Mediterranean, Tabou added that the re-opening of the border "has become an urgent necessity especially now that political blocs have appeared on the international arena".

    This time around, the Moroccan king's call to re-open the borders triggered little reaction in Algeria, where the official position apparently remains the same.

    Algerian foreign minister Mourad Medelci noted earlier, "We are willing to open borders with Morocco in the future, but appropriate conditions must be set through constant dialogue."

  7. #49
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    August 8, 2008 -- Speaking July 29th on the ninth anniversary of his ascension to the throne, King Mohammed VI renewed Morocco's call for open land borders with neighbouring Algeria so that new generations might "harness the potential of both Moroccan and Algerian peoples... instead of wasting them in the labyrinths of some handed-down conflict that dates back to a bygone era."

    The same day, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika voiced his "unwavering intent to restore warmth to the sisterly relations binding both nations".

    Despite these conciliatory gestures, any discussions about normalising relations in the 14 years since the border was closed have usually involved larger political issues such as solving the Western Sahara problem, or protecting against trafficking.

    For those in the financial community, however, the subject is much simpler; a closed border is bad for business. And the border question, they say, is key to the viability of the Maghreb Union.

    "The continued closure of the border between Morocco and Algeria impedes the integration of the Maghreb market, and consequently limits the prospects of investments directed to that market," said Nozha Hrichi, an advisor to former Moroccan Prime Minister Driss Jettou who now heads the Moroccan Company of Insurance of Exports.

    "We also shouldn't forget the role that the economic interests have played as an engine for the integration of the European Union, and how the resistance from politicians to the European integration has always fallen under the pressures of economic interests," she added.

    The interrelation of economic interests can help soften hardened political positions, Hrichi continued, pointing to the electricity link projects between Morocco and Algeria and the European-Maghreb gas pipeline which sends Algerian hydrocarbons to Spain through Moroccan soil.

    "Although the borders are closed between the two countries, and in spite of the political tensions between them, these projects managed to see light because there have been strong economic interests behind them," Hrichi noted.

    MasterCard International Group VP and Africa district manager Faisal Kheidri also believes that there are some glimpses of hope: "I think that the formation of the Maghreb Businessmen's Union about one year ago, plus the efforts exerted by the Maghreb Banks Union, as well as other initiatives, can have an effect on the course of events and can succeed in softening the hardened positions."

    "I'm Tunisian, my wife is Algerian, and I live in Casablanca," Kheidri said. "Therefore, to me, the continued closure of the Algerian-Moroccan border is a deep wound, and I hope that this problem will be solved soon."

    For other experts, the issue involves more than just trade and business relations between Morocco and Algeria. Jawad Kerdoudi, head of the Moroccan Centre for International Studies, argues that achieving Maghreb integration is linked to regional economic reforms and the promotion of democracy and human rights in all Maghreb countries.

    "We shouldn't forget that the Maghreb Union consists of five countries, and that there are dealings between Morocco, Libya and Mauritania," Kerdoudi told Magharebia. "There are common interests that are being created among the economic circles in the five countries, which we can grow to become an engine for moving ahead in building the Maghreb Union."

    The final word on Maghreb integration may indeed rest with politicians, not business leaders, said Moroccan Central Bank Governor Abdellatif Jouahri: "The Maghreb Union is dying; this is the reality that we are now living. The decision to rescue it is in the hands of politicians, and is directly related to the presence of a political will."

    Maghreb central banks and finance ministers have been working for three years under the auspices of the International Monetary Fund to boost the financial and commercial integration between the Maghreb countries, he said, adding that a meeting set for November in Tripoli will be dedicated to finance problems facing small and medium-sized enterprises in Maghreb countries.

    "The Maghreb integration we [seek] is to simply sit together, draw up a strategy for benefiting from the opportunities provided by globalisation, and proceed with negotiations with the EU and other economic and regional forces as a unified entity and from a position of strength for the interest of all Maghreb countries," Jouahri said.

    In recent years, two Moroccan banks managed to open branches in Tunisia. The Moroccan External Trade Bank (BMCE) opened a business bank in Tunis, while Attijariwafa Bank took over Banque du Sud. Moroccan banks haven't been able to do the same thing in Algeria, however, despite Algeria's opening of its banking system to foreign investment more than two years ago.

    "We may have to reconsider our plans," Jouahri added. "If it is not possible to speak about a Maghreb union consisting of five countries for the time being, why, then, don't we start with two or three countries, and then expand the union to the rest of countries when they become ready? Wasn't that the path adopted by Europe in building the EU?" he asked.

    While Attijariwafa Bank Chairman Mohammed Kettani believes the Maghreb Union to be "an inevitable thing", he stresses that banks are pivotal to the process. "When the banks of a certain country go to another country, the industrial and service companies of that country will follow them," he said. "The opening of a Moroccan bank in Tunisia was like a landing point and a crossing bridge for Moroccan companies into the Tunisian market, as well as the Tunisian companies into the Moroccan market."

    Kettani thinks that businessmen and economists "have to overcome the political obstacles and take advantage of all holes in order to make progress towards the desired integration."

    One businessman who has suffered financial losses from the closed borders is Mohammed Qassal, Deputy Chairman of the General Contracting Union in Morocco. Most of his work is concentrated in the eastern part of Morocco, near the border with Algeria. "I was achieving 60% of my turnover through trade with Algeria before the closure of the borders," he said. "After that, I was forced to look for other markets. I managed to narrowly escape bankruptcy."

    He thinks the borders will be opened before the end of this summer. "Too many things have changed today, especially with the reception Morocco's autonomy proposal for the Sahara has had on the international level," Qassal said. "I think that things have started to change in Algeria as well for resolving the crisis and opening the borders."

    In the meantime, he told Magharebia, "We are working side by side with our colleagues in the Maghreb Businessmen's Union to overcome this unnatural situation."

    Qassal has an idea to drive the point home. "In our last meeting, I proposed to my colleagues in Algeria to organise two marches for Maghreb businessmen: one to come from Algeria and the other from Morocco."

    It would then be businessmen, he explained, who would "penetrate the closed borders between the two countries".

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