France, Morocco restore normal relations after visa dispute
France has restored normal consular relations with Morocco following a year-long dispute linked to Paris' decision to slash the number of visas for Moroccans, according to French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna.
The move earlier this week is meant to smooth the relationship between both nations and comes ahead of a planned visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to the North African country early next year.
Colonna, on a visit Friday to Morocco, also praised the country's achievements in the soccer World Cup, two days after France’s victory in a historic match between the defending champion and Africa’s first ever semi finalist.
“Our objective is to improve the human exchanges between France and Morocco and enhance the deep interlinks between our two societies which makes our relations so particular,” Colonna said in a news conference with her Moroccan counterpart in Rabat.
France announced in September last year it would significantly reduce the numbers of visas being granted to Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian nationals. The French government said at the time the decision had been taken because these countries had refused to provide consular documents for their citizens being deported from France after arriving illegally.
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said the French move to normalize relations “goes in the right direction" following the tensions prompted by the visa dispute.
“Of course, there were popular reactions and also from people who were affected by this decision. I think that everyone is aware of this," he said. “Today, the decision to restore normal consular relationships is again a unilateral decision that Morocco respects and would not comment on officially.”
Both ministers stressed that the two countries are major partners in terms of the economy, education and security and share the same points of view regarding many international issues in Africa and the Middle East.