January 29, 2002
INTERVIEW GIVEN BY RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN ALEXANDER YAKOVENKO TO RIA NOVOSTI IN CONNECTION WITH THE FORTHCOMING VISIT BY MOROCCAN FOREIGN MINISTER MOHAMMED BENAISSA
Q: The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco, Mohammed Benaissa, is arriving in Moscow on January 30. Could you comment on the state of Russian-Moroccan relations in this connection?
A: Relations between Russia and Morocco are traditionally friendly. In the last few years, ties between our countries have been developing positively, in the spirit of the established traditions of mutual respect and equitable partnership. We have developed a great positive potential, the multiplication of which meets Russia's interests in this country and the whole of the region.
Russia and Morocco have a vast field for political interaction. Russia regards Morocco as a reliable and useful partner in international affairs, considering Rabat's big political weight and authority in the Arab and Islamic worlds. Our countries' approaches to topical issues of world politics, including the settlement of crisis situations and counter-terrorism struggle, are close or coincide. This refers also to the formation of a multipolar world, enhancement of the U.N. role in world affairs, and stability and security in the Mediterranean, Africa and the Middle East.
We are developing a traditionally confidential political dialogue, which includes exchanges of messages between Russian President Vladimir Putin and King Mohammed VI of Morocco, and between the heads of the two countries' foreign ministries.
The Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Trade Agreement, concluded by Russia and Morocco in the last few years, have considerably strengthened the legal and contractual basis of Russian-Moroccan cooperation.
Q: What areas in relations between our countries do you think have the best prospects?
A: We hope that Mohammed Benaissa's visit will help us make much headway in resolving outstanding issues on the agenda of bilateral relations. Apart from a wide range of international and regional issues, the negotiations with Mohammed Benaissa will focus on concrete areas in which trade and economic relations between the two countries can be cemented. Despite achievements made in this field, we think that the cooperation potential has not yet been fully tapped.
On the whole, we are satisfied with our fruitful economic cooperation with Morocco, one of Russia's largest trade partners in Africa. According to preliminary estimates, the year 2001 saw a record high level of bilateral trade - about $360 million. The former record - $335 million - was beaten already in early October. Both countries are interested in developing bilateral trade. In particular, enterprises of Russia's Voronezh Region will display their products at an exhibition planned to be held on April 23-25, 2002, in Casablanca.
Russia and Morocco are also interested in developing their successful cooperation experience in the construction of power generation facilities. In 1998, Russia helped Morocco build the Al Wahda hydroelectric power plant, one of Africa's largest. Russia gave Morocco a 100-million-ecu loan for the purpose.
We welcome the beginning of Russian-Moroccan contacts on resumption of mutually advantageous cooperation in sea fishing.
High technologies are another promising area of our interaction with Morocco. The successful launch of Morocco's Maroc-Tubsat satellite on December 10, 2001, from the Baikonur launch site came as an important step in this direction. We hope that our constructive interaction in this field will be continued.
During the forthcoming exchange of views, we consider it important to emphasise the need to give an additional impetus to bilateral trade and economic ties between both state and private business structures.
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