As mid-January approaches, the date on which French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to visit Morocco, speculation is rife first on the reality of this visit, then on his political agenda.
Its reality first. Nothing indicates today that this visit will take place at the announced time. Morocco has not spoken officially on this event. What we do know is that the French Foreign Minister, the famous Chiraquienne, Catherine Colonna, will be going to Morocco in mid-December to prepare the political framework for such a trip.
And it is important for both countries because it is supposed to close a long sequence of crisis between the two countries where the level of political dialogue has dropped sharply and where the Paris-Rabat axis, traditionally lively and strategic, has long suffered from crackling of misunderstandings.
Then there is the political framework. A visit from Emmanuel Macron? To do what ? If the ceiling of the ambitions displayed by the French is to reach a consensus so that the granting of visas returns to its initial level, before the crisis, this visit by Macron, even if it is surrounded by the most grandiose protocols, does not will only be a sword in the water.
Because both in Rabat and in Paris, the conviction is firmly established that this visa crisis is in fact only the symptom of the disease and the tension and not the disease itself. To limit the political breakthroughs of this trip to a story of consular passes would be to miss the essential point that creates a crisis between French and Moroccans.
In all the press articles which deal with this visit, we reveal the bad mood, even the French presidential bitterness on the possible recourse of Morocco to the Israeli software Pegasus to spy on French personalities including the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron. Morocco has forcefully denied having resorted to such procedures and French and European justice has found no concrete evidence implicating Morocco. This Pegasus affair is one of the big questions to be purged before considering anything revitalizing in Franco-Moroccan relations.
Then there is the Sahara affair. Rabat’s demands are clear. Paris must come out of ambiguity and officially recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over its Sahara. On this question and on the need to place it at the top of the agenda of this visit, opinions differ between those who believe that Macron’s visit should be an opportunity to make an announcement as spectacular as the French recognition of the Moroccan sovereignty over its Sahara. The setting and the opportunity are ideal for such acceleration.
And those who think that they should not embarrass, or even corner French diplomacy in the corner and leave it the choice only between the crisis with Morocco and the crisis with Algeria. Because it is common knowledge that Paris has not yet taken this symbolic step of recognition, it is so as not to provoke the ire of the Algerian regime for which the French response to the American approach is an extremely sensitive not to cross through Paris on pain of suffering the wrath of Algiers.
But in the reality of relations between the two countries, can we really imagine that a visit by President Macron can take place in Morocco without it being a question of the position of Paris on this affair?. French diplomacy can always argue that since 2007, when Morocco offered the international community the option of autonomy, France was one of the first countries to praise its seriousness and credibility.
But this same diplomacy will have all the difficulty in the world in explaining to its Moroccan interlocutors why it remains voluntarily in the background in relation to the global wave of recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the Sahara and which the United Nations is in the process of enshrined in international legality.
If Emmanuel Macron has to come to Morocco and be content in terms of diplomatic results with announcing developments on the visa crisis, this would be a failed attempt to restore a new dynamic in the partnership between Paris and Rabat. The ambition ceiling should necessarily be higher.