Sunday, June 26

Rosa Caadas: “Spain and Morocco have to redefine their relationship with dialogue and diplomacy. We have to start from scratch”

  • Profile Aziz Akhanuch, the richest man in Morocco, with the permission of the king, and winner of the elections
  • Diplomacy Morocco and Algeria: a new but old confrontation to Twitter heat and gas

Born in Tangier into a Spanish family, trained in the most prestigious business school in Paris and settled in Barcelona, ​​Rosa Caadas chairs the Tanja Foundation, which works to change narratives and promote relations between Morocco and Spain. On its board of trustees, it has international figures such as Javier Solana, Josep Borrell, Shlomo Ben Ami, Andr Azoulay and Omar Azziman. In addition, she combines this activity with her work as president of Trea Capital Partners. An expert in investments, mergers and acquisitions, she advises business groups on both shores of the Mediterranean in search of opportunities. Visiting Madrid, give this interview to EL MUNDO to talk about how Spain and Morocco can resume their relationship, once the diplomatic storm experienced in the middle of this year calmed down, as a result of the reception of the leader of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, in our country to receive medical treatment.

Question.- Are Spain and Morocco overcoming the diplomatic crisis?

Answer.- We are working on it, the rope has already loosened a bit. But I think so, that a new period is going to begin where we have to talk much more, have more complicity, because the relationships we have – we are the first commercial partner, there are a thousand companies in Morocco – there is no complicity. And there is little complicity also between those who call ‘les patrons’, the presidents of large companies of the two countries. First, because Moroccans are more of a French background and this also limits complicity because that is acquired when you study together, you speak the same language … that is something that must be solved in order to advance in greater complicity.

Q.- What lessons does the Spanish Government have to draw from these months of crisis?

R.- I think there has been a bit of innocence in things that have been done and not appreciating the change. Despite the importance of North Africa and the Mediterranean, we are not giving it the importance it has. We are seeing right now that it is boiling over and we are not giving the area the attention it needs. People do not know what happens there, when it has a direct influence in Spain and in Europe. I think more knowledge is needed. Then there is always this slightly erroneous view of the “Moor”, which is like a stereotype that we have and that may indeed exist, but it is not 100% of the population. There are very prepared people, very warrior women, progress is being made … Morocco has made many advances in recent years. This lack of knowledge also makes relationships strained from time to time. It is true that being a neighbor is never easy, but it is better to find a solution, since you have to live together, than to go to a confrontation. In this crisis, there have been many mistakes on both sides.

P.-And Morocco, what can you learn from this crisis?

R.- I think that Ceuta totally got out of hand, it was a big mistake. It has also been the first time that Europe has said enough, because there have been many hurdle jumps, specifically in 2014 there were many massive jumps, and Europe did not say anything, they thought it was Spain’s problem and that she had to solve it and not. it was pronounced. This time Morocco has also realized that one of its greatest defenders, which has always been France, has also called it to order on this issue, in one of the first times that France sided with Spain on this issue. Therefore, I think Morocco was wrong.

Q.- The Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez, has assumed the responsibility of the entire Government in the decision to allow the Polisario leader to enter Spain to receive medical treatment, which triggered the crisis. Could it have been handled better during the diplomatic storm?

R.- Spain could also have prevented what he did. For me it is something free. It is not asking for permission, it is informing. If you already have a relationship and you know that this problem touches the sore, avoid reporting it – not asking for permission, Spain does not have to ask for permission, but what it does have to do is notify. I do not dispute the side that it was done for humanitarian reasons but I think the way was not correct. If you are doing something right, you don’t hide it, right?

There are errors on both sides that have been coupled with a changing situation in Morocco, which grew a lot when the US said that the Shara was Moroccan sovereign. This also led Morocco to take a position that it had not had until now. We must not forget the geostrategic position of China and its expansion in Africa. And the US has seen that it is being left off the map and has put Morocco in the spotlight.

Q. Was the background of Donald Trump’s tweet recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Shara?

R.- The background is the fact that the US wanted Morocco to regain relations with Israel, a country with which there were already very important ties (10 government ministers are of Moroccan origin). Obviously, the US had interests, it did not do it for something else.

Q.- Does Spain have to redefine its relations with Morocco?

R.- Yes, on both sides you have to do it. You have to redefine a tat relationship, in a mutual exchange. You have to have a lot of dialogue, diplomacy, to calm the waters, which have calmed down a bit but are still churning. You have to start from scratch, we are in a different situation. We must take advantage of the pandemic, that all this has something positive, and make a clean sweep. Let us set the conditions to say from where one and the other cannot pass and find a real ally, a partner. Because the positions of Morocco and Spain are very strategic. Spain is strategic for Europe and can position itself as the strongest part of the entire Mediterranean if it knows how to do it, because the region is very important. You have to start from scratch with people who have that sensitivity, who know how to understand who is in front of them.

Q.- However, Sánchez has closed the possibility of changing Spain’s position in favor of Morocco’s thesis on the Western Shara and continues to align itself with the UN. Do you think that Spain should change its position?

R.- What has been achieved with the UN resolutions? I think there must be a rethinking. First because it has not worked, they are stagnant. These people who are there for years and years [los saharauis refugiados en los campos de Tinduf]Are they going to continue like this for years and years? It is up to Spain to take a step because, in fact, if we are where we are, it is because Spain went wrong. Spain cannot hide behind UN resolutions, it has to be a little more active, if it is necessary to modify some things, modify them and find a solution. But this referendum is going to be very difficult to do, because there is no census and there never will be. We already start from the base that we are proposing something that is impossible … we change it, right? Let’s go find another solution.

Q. – And what would be the solution for the Western Shara?

R.- It is seeking a more open autonomy that allows these people to have a dignified life. If we talk about humanitarian reasons, I think that is a great reason. At least you have to try to move forward to find a solution other than the referendum. We have been two and a half years without a representative for the Western Shara, this means that we have stopped it. You have to unlock it.

Q.- Do you think that with Morocco’s record in the Western Shara and its sad record of human rights, with a repressed and economically depressed local population, autonomy would be viable for the Sahrawis, who demand something else, independence?

R.- I don’t know if it would be an autonomy. I say that we must advance in something other than the referendum. Because we have seen that in all these years it has not been possible to do. What is better? Continue in this position? Let’s take this opportunity to open up, I don’t know in which direction … they will have to find it among all the parties, but let’s move on a bit … let’s not stay at the UN, we have to take a step.

Q.- The General Court of the European Union knocked down the fisheries and agricultural agreements between Brussels and Rabat for including the Western Shara.

R.- This is bad news for Morocco but also for Spain. We have 92 boats that fish in the area. But this continues to demonstrate the contradictions and ambiguities regarding the Western Shara, both in Spain and in the EU.

Q.- Morocco and Algeria are locked in their own crisis, exacerbated since the summer with the breakdown of bilateral relations. Why is this escalation now that Morocco is toning down with Spain? How will this tension evolve?

R.- Lately attention has been focused on Morocco, which receives a lot of European aid for being, as they say, the “gendarme” of immigration. And I think that Algeria has said ‘here I am and I also have something to say’ and if it weren’t for the gas issue, nobody would talk about Algeria. It’s a wake-up call.

Q.- Spain is also interested in maintaining a good relationship with Algeria, another strategic ally. How to maintain a balance?

A.- This is going to be complicated because Algeria is a more difficult country, more closed. Nor can Morocco close down saying that Spain has to cut relations with Algeria, I don’t think it will. Last year, Morocco already said that it was necessary to open a little more relations with Algeria. That there is this blockade is also a brake on the growth of the area. Morocco is not going to ask Spain to break with Algeria. It is true that one of the big issues is gas, which for now was passing through Morocco. We will see what happens now, because there have never been supply cuts or when relations were strained. We will see if [el anuncio de Argel de dejar de transportar gas a la Pennsula a travs del gasoducto que pasa por Marruecos el 31 de octubre] is it just a warning or it becomes a reality.

Q.- With the elections of September 8, Morocco closed a cycle of ten years with the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) at the head of the Government. How do you interpret the triumph of the National Regrouping of Independents (RNI)?

R.- The PJD considered itself the people’s party, but in recent years with the pandemic, they have realized that they were not up to the task and their promises have not been kept. It has been a punishment because the flag cities have lost.

Q.- Can the new government led by the RNI help to straighten relations with Spain?

R.- They are technocrats, highly prepared people who can give the country more openness, because the PJD did not have an important international relationship either and they can give it more projection. Aziz Akhanuch’s wife [el nuevo primer ministro] She is a feisty, combative businesswoman, and this can help too. The mayors of Casablanca and Rabat are women for the first time. This is a step that is already being seen that there may be changes. I do not see this change wrong, I believe that the dialogue may be easier by affinity, by culture, with European countries and with Spain. It is time to start from scratch in relations between Spain and Morocco, let’s take advantage of it to talk about the issues that are on the table and have never been solved, to talk about tat, a ‘win-win’, let’s start talking at the same level and move towards something that interests us all.

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