Visas: Paris takes a first step towards appeasement, but...

It had been more than a year since Paris had imposed strict restrictions in terms of granting visas, a decision which was considered “unjustified” and which constituted one of the points of divergence between Morocco and France. However, following the recent visit of the French Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Kingdom, it was agreed to restore this consular relationship in order to ease the tensions created.

The reduction in visas granted was decided by the French authorities at the end of 2021 and has since taken full effect throughout the year before classes returned to normal following the last visit of the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna, Morocco. During this two-day visit, the French diplomat met with her Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita, a meeting which ultimately led to the end of the visa crisis.

France’s decision to restrict visas was a unilateral decision, but considered sovereign, taken by the Quai d’Orsay for the three Maghreb countries (Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria). The status quo on the rule of 50% of visas allocated to Maghreb citizens was resolved first with Algeria, followed by Tunisia and finally after more than a year of cold between Rabat and Paris, this problem was resolved“, recalls Karima Rhanem, president of the International Center for Diplomacy, to MoroccoLatestNews EN.

According to the expert, the problem started with ” the French approach to solving the problem of irregular nationals who have been expelled by France. The reduction in the number of visas, going as far as the refusal of almost 70% of applications from Morocco, which were rejected by the French consular services without justification, aroused the anger of applicants and the indignation of civil society and parliamentarians“.

Nevertheless, Morocco, which respects the sovereignty of the decisions of its partners, did not want to officially comment on this decision relating to the restriction of visas.“, she pointed out, noting that “ France, by this act, wanted to put pressure on the Moroccan government, judged according to it + uncooperative + on the readmission of Moroccans expelled from France“.

The president of the CID specifies that this visa crisis posed a legal problem, “ the personal data of Moroccans are used by a third party company, a party which does not have the right to retain personal information in the absence of a guarantee of data protection“.

However, restrictions in issuing French visas were not the only problem. ” The reasons for litigation between Paris and Rabat have accumulated since the Pegasus affair, Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Algiers, the vote for resolution 2654 concerning the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara without presenting the usual explanations of the vote…“, she continues.

If a return to normal in terms of visas has been made, points of divergence remain, particularly concerning France’s position vis-à-vis the territorial integrity of the Kingdom. However, for several observers and connoisseurs of the Rabat-Paris relationship, the partnership between the countries is so strong and anchored that solutions will inevitably be found.

Karima Rhanem shares this opinion. ” Despite this cold and despite the pressures linked to previous elections where migration issues dominated the political discourse of the far right in France, Morocco and France have strong ties, particularly economic ones, given that France is the first traditional trading partner of Morocco” , she says.

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