José Luis Rodriquez Zapatero has been well appreciated in Morocco. In addition to the fact that his grandfather has been living in Larache for years, his privileged relationship with King Mohammed VI explains everything.
Posted August 8,2018 in Nouvelles et Politique.
It is hard to count the number of times former Spanish Prime Minister Luis Rodriquez Zapatero visited Morocco. The politician comes regularly to the Kingdom and the King Mohammed VI's palaces. His last meeting with the sovereign was in July the 30th in Tangier.
In July 2000, when he was 40 years old, Zapatero took the lead of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE). Surrounded by a team of young people (including José Blanco and Trinidad Jiménez), he immediately overhauled the political party with the objective of winning the 2004 presidential election.
Unlike his comrades at the PSOE, Zapatero kept his eyes on Morocco. In December 2001, he paid Rabat a visit. At the time, he was criticized by members of the People’s Party who have slammed him for wanting to «divide the country» for offering King Mohammed VI an unexpected gift.
«Morocco deserves close attention»
In Rabat, the Kingdom received Zapatero in a magnificent way. The socialist politician held talks with the King and former Prime Minister Abderrahmane El Youssoufi.
Three years later, he won Spain’s parliamentary elections on the 14th of March, 2004. Zapatero had the opportunity to honor his 2001 commitments, aiming to start a «new phase» for diplomatic relations between Rabat and Madrid. During his inaugural speech he stated that «close attention must be paid to Morocco. This country demands and deserves preferential attention and relations that are based on deep understanding».
During his two terms as head of the Spanish government, diplomatic ties between the two countries were boosted. Madrid moderated its support for the Polisario Front, particularly in the UN and Morocco, in exchange, cooperated with Canary Island in its fight against illegal migration.
This improvement resulted in the conclusion of an agreement between Zapatero and King Mohammed VI.
Once he left office in 2011, his relationship with the Moroccan monarch entered a new era. Following the footsteps of his mentor, Felip Gonzalez, Zapatero did not hesitate, showing that he is still close to the Kingdom.
In March 2015, he took part in the Crans Montana Forum hosted by Dakhla. A few months earlier, he defended the situation of human rights in Morocco at the World Forum on Human Rights, held November in 2014 in Marrakech.
Recognizing Zapatero’s efforts in favor of Morocco on the 2016 Throne Day, the King granted him the Wissam Alaoui with an honorary title. Even today, Rabat can count on Zapatero, the latter is known for being close to the current Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.