- The European Union has granted Morocco advanced status on deepening ties and cooperation in Rabat yesterday, Foreign Minister, Taib Fassi Fihri announced.
Morocco, which has insisted on the inclusion of the Maghreb dimension during the Advanced Status negotiations with the EU, said the Maghreban integration is critical for economic growth and human development.
However, Morocco which has annexed Western Sahara territory since 1976 saw Western Sahara appealing to the EU not to grant Advanced Status to Morocco unless occupied part of Western Sahara is excluded from cooperation agreement.
Minister Fassi Fihri said advanced status of Morocco is expected to be the suitable response to the regional challenges that take place in the Mediterranean shores.
According to national news agency, MAP, Morocco is convinced that the achievement of the Union for the Mediterranean Initiative (UPM) will help build in the Mediterranean a coherent and united geopolitical block, and launch an innovative regional dynamic.
Economist, and former Finance Minister, Fathallah Oualalou said the Advanced Status is a legitimate response to the reforms undertaken by the Kingdom at the political, economic, and social levels, saying the reforms have enabled Morocco to measure up to the international and European norms.
"The Advanced Status represents a starting point towards all the upcoming reforms as well as a new era of cooperation," Mr Oualalou said.
In November Western Sahara issued a petition letter to the EU, saying if the EU would grant Advanced Status to Morocco and its occupation in Western Sahara, it would be a clear indication of its support to Moroccan annexation of the territory.
Morocco's annexation of Western Sahara has been a cause for concern and a feud on its neighbours and the country's main militant group, Polissario which claims to be fighting for its independence from Morocco.
Polisario waged a low-level guerrilla war in Western Sahara from 1975 until 1991, when United Nations brokered a ceasefire. The territory remains divided and many Sahara refugees live in camps in Algeria.
Both Morocco and Polisario are increasingly frustrated about the status quo. Polisario has been promised a referendum over independence since 1991, but Moroccan regime had squashed all hopes of such a solution.
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