Morocco will review its relations with the EU after the vote of condemnation of the European Parliament | International

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Moroccan parliamentarians, during the session on the condemnation of the European Parliament, on Monday in Rabat.- (AFP)

With rare unanimity and diligence, the active forces of Morocco have mobilized in response to the European Parliament resolution that last Thursday condemned the deterioration of press freedom in the North African country, with several journalists imprisoned, and their alleged involvement in the plot of corruption of Qatargate. The association of judges, that of the media or that of Moroccans residing abroad have cried out against the "blackmail of the European Parliament" after the first vote of condemnation suffered in two decades by Rabat in the Strasbourg chamber. The malaise has escalated to the highest powers of the State. The Superior Council of the Judiciary reproached on Saturday the European interference in Moroccan justice. And in an extraordinary session of its Chambers in Rabat, Parliament agreed on Monday to "review its relations with the European Parliament" after the "unacceptable resolution that has destroyed the relationship of trust." Morocco warns that the vote of the MEPs will affect "the achievements that have occurred in several decades" of strategic bilateral relations.

The seat of the Parliament, in the central avenue of Mohamed V in Rabat, is the epicenter of political, labor and social protests in Morocco. Rare is the day when there is not a concentration with banners in front of its doors. The deputies of the lower house and the councilors of the upper house have now attended a joint plenary session, with unusual unanimity, to vehemently reject the "interference" of the European Parliament. In the same scenario as major occasions, such as the annual throne speech delivered by the king at the Legislative headquarters, and after a succession of interventions by groups, Parliament agreed on a joint declaration to "reconsider its relations with the European Parliament and submit them to a global review, and make appropriate and firm decisions", without specifying more details, "after the usurpation of the independence of the Moroccan judicial institutions".

In an environment in which political tension was breathed, with mentions of Western Sahara, the European "speech of colonial superiority", and even the burning of a Koran in Sweden and the "smell of gas" emanating from the alleged pressure of Algeria on the European Parliament, the session was adjusted to a predictable script. The three parties that support the Government coincided in denouncing "the violation of the national sovereignty of a country associated" with the European Union, such as Morocco. "The decisions of the MEPs are not going to intimidate us," warned Mohamed Ghiat, spokesman for the parliamentary group of the National Group of Independents, the main party of the majority, from the rostrum. "We don't have gas or oil to buy [voluntades] and corrupt”, emphasized Ghiat in a veiled allusion to Algeria. “I wonder if the cold and the gas have replaced the values ​​of human rights [entre los diputados]”, he added.

The resolution of the European Parliament, adopted by 356 votes in favor, 32 against (including those of 17 Spanish Socialists) and 42 abstentions, expressed European concern "over suspicions that Moroccan officials had tried to bribe MEPs" and vetoed the presence of representatives of that country in the European Parliament, as agreed with the Qataris. Morocco, along with Qatar, is starring in the bribery scandal in which there are already four defendants, including Eva Kaili, one of the vice-presidents of the European Parliament now stripped of her position, and the former MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri, who has signed an agreement of "repentant" with the Belgian authorities to tell everything in exchange for a reduced sentence.

From the ranks of the Moroccan government majority, Ahmed Tuizi, spokesman for the Authenticity and Modernity Party, celebrated the vote of the Spanish Socialists who refused to "support a failed attempt" against Morocco, and thanked the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, who defended the vote of his deputies in Strasbourg. Tuizi accused, however, "a country that we believed to be a friend [en referencia a Francia] of having lost his mind because of the smell of gas [supuestamente causado por su acercamiento a Argelia]”.

The President of the Government of Spain plans to travel to Rabat on February 1 and 2, in front of a dozen ministers, to participate in a high-level meeting that will consecrate the end of the diplomatic crisis between the two countries. At the meeting, the first at this level since 2015, issues of police cooperation in the area of ​​irregular immigration, the delimitation of maritime and air borders in the Canary Islands, the reinforcement of economic relations and the opening of customs in the Canary Islands will be discussed. borders of Ceuta and Melilla, initially scheduled for this week.

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Harassment of journalists

The text voted by the European Parliament last week also demanded that the Moroccan authorities cease attacks against the press, that Rabat "respect the freedom of expression of the media" and "put an end to the harassment of journalists". At the same time, it calls for an end to spying on informers through the controversial Israeli-made Pegasus program, with which members of the Spanish government were also spied on, according to an investigation by a journalistic consortium.

The European Parliament has also denounced the "misuse" of accusations of sexual assault to prosecute informers and has demanded the immediate release of journalists Omar Radi (who is serving a six-year prison sentence for rape and espionage), Tofik Buachrin (15 years old) and Suleiman Raisuni (five years old).

A coordinator of defenders of imprisoned journalists and activists in Morocco has called for the release of "the victims of freedom of expression who are arbitrarily detained," according to Efe. Among them includes Naser Zefzati, leader of the social revolts that broke out in the Rif (northern Morocco) in 2017.

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