Blok for deeper, better partnership with Morocco

Foreign minister Stef Blok took part in talks today in Rabat on deepening and enhancing the Netherlands’ partnership with Morocco. ‘Morocco is one of the European Union’s neighbours, and an important partner for the Netherlands in many areas, including counterterrorism and migration,’ said the minister. ‘We need each other. That’s why a visit to Rabat was a priority for me.’

The Netherlands and Morocco have many mutual interests, not least because of the 400,000 people in the Netherlands with Moroccan roots. The two countries have a relationship that allows them to reach agreements, said Mr Blok. ‘And these agreements must be carried out. They include for example an agreement about taking back failed Moroccan asylum seekers.’ Morocco’s location at a gateway to Europe makes it a key country for managing the flow of irregular migrants to Europe. The minister reached agreement with Morocco on working together on this issue, including cooperation on returning Moroccans without residence permits. Minister for Migration Mark Harbers will continue these talks in Morocco in two weeks.

Mr Blok’s talks today also addressed the recent unrest in the northern Moroccan region of the Rif. He conveyed his concerns about the situation, and urged the Moroccan authorities to safeguard freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and the right of protesters who have been arrested to a fair trial. He also expressed concern about the safety of Dutch nationals who will be travelling to Morocco this summer.

The Netherlands and Morocco have excellent economic ties. For example, more than 30 Dutch companies will attend the Salon International de l’Agriculture next week in the Moroccan city of Meknes, Africa’s largest agricultural trade fair. The two countries agreed today during Mr Blok’s visit to extend their economic ties even further. He opened an ‘Orange Corner’ in Rabat, a hub for innovation to help young, independent Moroccan entrepreneurs, calling it a unique and valuable idea. ‘Morocco needs jobs – this is only one of the reasons why Orange Corner is important,’ he said. He also plans to designate an honorary Dutch consul in Tangier to promote economic exchanges between the Netherlands and Morocco.

Finally, the minister spoke about the major contribution that many Dutch footballers are making to the powerful Moroccan national team at the World Cup in Russia this summer.