Paris on the road to appeasement after months of tensions

France is seeking to put an end to a latent crisis with Morocco and is working to find gestures of appeasement likely to re-establish ties with its historic partner.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna is expected to travel to Rabat in mid-December to prepare for a visit by President Emmanuel Macron scheduled for January, diplomatic sources said.

“Everything is still in motion, there can always be an amicable postponement of the trip”noted one of these sources, however.

Planned for months, Emmanuel Macron’s state visit has so far struggled to materialize due to a series of subjects that poison bilateral relations.

First bone of contention: the “visa war” linked to Paris’ decision in September 2021 to halve the entry permits granted to Moroccans, arguing the kingdom’s reluctance to readmit its nationals in an irregular situation in France.

A measure referred to as“unjustified” by Rabat, d‘”humiliating” by humanitarian NGOs and “great clumsiness” in French-speaking Moroccan circles.

In addition, Paris is considered too wait-and-see on the question of the Moroccan Sahara.

However, after months of “silent crisis”, the French Head of State and King Mohammed VI resumed contact on November 1 in view of a forthcoming visit by the French President.

Morocco offers a gateway to sub-Saharan Africa, where it actively exercises its “soft power” economy since the 2010s. It is France’s leading trading partner in Africa.

In an effort to warm up bilateral ties, Paris could ease its visa policy that has sparked anger and outrage among Moroccans, especially the Francophile middle class.

Another mark of the thaw, after several months of vacation, a new French ambassador is only waiting for Rabat’s approval to take up his post.

France is Morocco’s leading economic partner and, by far, the main foreign investor.

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