Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has met his Moroccan counterpart Salaheddine Mezouar for talks in Berlin. Their meeting focused on further steps to strengthen bilateral cooperation. Following the dramatic developments in Iraq, regional issues such as the war in Syria and the terrorist threat in Iraq moved into the spotlight.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier gave a warm welcome to his Moroccan counterpart Mezouar at the Federal Foreign Office. Steinmeier said that during their first meeting on Friday (13 June) in Berlin they had assured each other of their desire to do something for German Moroccan relations, which are “on a firm footing”. Foreign Minister Steinmeier praised Morocco’s development in the face of the upheavals in the Arab world, saying that the country had shown great wisdom in striving for stability.
German Moroccan economic commission in preparation
Morocco’s Foreign Minister Mezouar also referred to their joint desire to develop their bilateral relations. He said that they had also been able to use the talks in Berlin to prepare for the first bilateral economic commission, due to take place in Morocco this October, adding that the economic commission would be a good opportunity to identify additional areas of cooperation.
He said that his goal was for Germany to become one of Morocco’s top three economic partners in the future.
Concern about “ungovernable space” in Iraq
Against the backdrop of the alarming situation in Iraq and the still critical situation in Syria, the two partners also stressed the regional significance of the developments. Violence in the country has been escalating since Islamic ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) fighters took control of several Iraqi cities, including Mosul, the country’s second largest city. They have also taken several dozen hostages, including the Turkish Consul General and some children.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier expressed his concern that an “ungovernable space” could develop in Iraq, stating that the advancement of the ISIS must be halted. The Foreign Minister declared that forming a government must be the first step in a process of political consolidation. Steinmeier continued:
No doubt this will only be possible when an Iraqi government emerges which itself commands authority in its own country. Many other developments will depend on this.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier pointed out that the terrorist forces had gained a position of power throughout the entire region. Commenting in a major German newspaper (published on 13 June) Steinmeier had warned that the fighting threatened “to plunge not only Iraq, but the whole region, which has already been destabilised by the war in Syria, into further violence and chaos.” Steinmeier said that the effects of the war in Syria were thus “combining dangerously with Iraq’s internal problems”.