Berlin summons Moroccan ambassador amid deteriorating ties

Germany summons Morocco’s ambassador in Berlin for urgent meeting two days after North African kingdom suspended contacts with European country, citing “deep misunderstandings.”

LONDON – Germany said Tuesday it summoned Morocco’s ambassador in Berlin for an urgent meeting two days after the North African kingdom suspended contacts with the European country, citing “deep misunderstandings” with Germany on fundamental questions.

The suspension includes the German embassy in Rabat, cooperation agencies and political foundations, according to a letter signed by Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita and leaked to the media.

The suspension of contacts, which did not happen via official channels, came after a number of political moves that Berlin had taken in the past few months, which had irked the Moroccan government.

In January, Morocco, which has been a key player in finding a solution to the Libyan conflict, was left out from the Berlin Conference on Libya, prompting ‘astonished’ Bourita to question Germany’s decision.

But the most important motive that pushed Morocco to suspend its contacts with the German embassy was Berlin’s stance on the Western Sahara issue.

When former US President Donald Trump recognised Morocco’s sovereignty over its Sahara, Berlin took the matter to UN Security Council, urging Washington to act within the framework of international law.

Morocco saw Germany’s move as a “double standard” since the EU continues to import fish, agricultural products from Western Sahara.

In 2019, Morocco exported 434 million euros ($524 million) worth of fish, tomatoes and melons from Western Sahara to Europe, the European Commission said last December, without giving a figure for phosphates.

Germany is Morocco’s seventh-biggest trade partner. KfW, a German state-owned development bank, played a major role in financing the North African country’s vast renewable energy projects.

Morocco cooperates with Germany in fighting terrorism. In December 2018, Morocco’s intelligence agency helped its German counterpart to thwart serious terrorist plots that were targeting Stuttgart airport.