Interview of Alexander Yakovenko, the Official Spokesman of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, by RIA Novosti News Agency about Upcoming Visit of Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Ivanov to Morocco
Question: What place will the upcoming, April 3-4, visit of Igor Ivanov to Morocco hold in the general context of recent Russian-Moroccan relations? What are the aims and objectives of the visit?
Answer: The upcoming working visit of Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Ivanov to Morocco integrally fits in with the foreign policy line directed to strengthening the positions of Russia in the Middle East as a whole, and in such an important sub-region as the Arab Maghreb in particular.
One of the chief objectives of the visit is to deepen the Russian-Moroccan political dialogue, which in recent years has noticeably livened up. Exchanges of messages are now regular between President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and King Muhammed VI of Morocco, and between the heads of the foreign affairs agencies of the two countries. On January 30, 2002, Moroccan Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Minister Mohamed Benaissa stayed on a working visit to Moscow. Igor Ivanov's visit is designed to consolidate these positive dynamics in Russian-Moroccan dialogue.
We expect Ivanov's visit to help us advance substantially in dealing with the accumulated issues on the bilateral agenda. Among priority bilateral tasks the emphasis will be laid on further strengthening trade-and-economic cooperation between our countries, where, in spite of the obvious successes, quite a few reserves still exist.
On the whole there is every reason to assume that Igor Ivanov's visit to Rabat will be an important landmark in the development of Russian-Moroccan ties.
Question: What is the general character of Russian-Moroccan relations? How developed is their juridical base?
Answer: In recent years Russian-Moroccan ties have been favorably developing in the spirit of the well-established traditions of mutual respect and equal partnership. Here no small potential has been accumulated. Its augmentation meets the interests of Russia in that country and the region as a whole.
The juridical base of Russian-Moroccan bilateral cooperation has grown substantially stronger in the last few years. There operate the Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation, and the intergovernmental Trade Agreement. We bear in mind to soon get a whole package of new documents concluded, including agreements on the mutual encouragement and protection of investment, on visa-free trips on diplomatic and service passports, on cooperation in the fields of culture, motor transportation, plant quarantine and tourism.
Question: What are the opportunities for cooperation between Russia and Morocco in international affairs?
Answer: Our countries have a broad field for political cooperation. We regard Morocco as a reliable and long-term partner in international affairs, in particular, keeping in mind the considerable political weight and authority of Rabat in the Arab and Islamic world. The approaches of our countries to new global challenges, to the struggle against international terrorism and to the role and importance of the UN are similar or concur. This concerns also such topical issues in world politics as the formation of a multipolar world pattern, and stability and security in the Mediterranean, Africa and the Middle East.
Question: How successfully have trade-and-economic ties been developing between Russia and Morocco? What are their prospects?
Answer: In the course of the upcoming exchange of views we consider it important to emphasize the necessity to give an additional impetus to bilateral trade-and-economic ties not only between state, but also between private business structures, whose potential needs to be tapped more fully and effectively.
On the whole we are satisfied with fruitful trade-and-economic cooperation with Morocco, one of Russia's leading trade partners in Africa. In 2001 a record figure was recorded for bilateral trade - approximately 380 million dollars. There is mutual interest in the further expansion and diversification of trade.
We regard the start of Russian-Moroccan contacts to resume mutually beneficial sea fisheries cooperation as a very positive fact. In January-February 2002 delegations of Russia's State Fisheries Committee visited Rabat. We now expect Moroccan experts to arrive in Moscow.
We consider high technologies a growth area of cooperation with Morocco. An important step in this direction was the launching of Morocco's Maroc-Tubsat satellite from the Baikonur cosmodrome on December 10, 2001. We hope for the constructive cooperation in this field to continue.
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