During the talk, the interviewer, Hafid Soualili, told the president that “France’s position on Western Sahara seems to be biased towards Morocco.”
Macron, who began an official visit to Algeria today, was faced with a question from the daily regarding “the resolution of this lingering dispute: Isn’t France supposed to take a balanced stance on the issue?”
The president refuted the daily’s claims. “We stand at an equal distance from both sides, and our position is known and has not changed, and will not change.”
For Macron, dialogue between Algeria and Morocco on issue is key. “Together, with the support of the international community, you [Morocco and Algeria] must work to resolve this crisis, whose solution is a major challenge for the integration of the Arab Maghreb.”
The president said that he “hopes that Morocco and Algeria will be able to overcome their differences in order to build a strong, united and prosperous Maghreb.”
With the lasting tension between Morocco and Algeria, especially over Western Sahara, each country is seeking a stronger relationship with France than the other.
Upon his election as president, Macron set a precedent by choosing to visit Morocco over Algeria in his first visit to North Africa.
“This visit proves that the relationships of friendship and cooperation between Morocco and France will continue under President Macron,” Said Benhamida, head of En Marche Maroc, told Morocco World News.
The choice of Morocco did not escape the attention of Algerian media. French-speaking news outlet Tout Sur l’Algérie (TSA), known for its anti-Morocco stance, noted that Macron broke the tradition of his predecessors. The last three presidents, Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy, and François Hollande, had visited Algeria first following their elections.
“He is convinced that a solid partnership between our two countries is indispensable to meet many of the challenges, particularly security, economic growth, employment and sustainable development.”
Macron had outlined a vision for tripartite cooperation between Europe, the Mediterranean, and Africa. “For this cooperation to be successful, Morocco’s engagement is crucial,” said Lechevallier.
Asked about where Macron stands on the Western Sahara issue, Lechevallier said the newly elected president “sees Morocco’s Autonomy Proposal presented in 2007 as a serious and credible basis for a negotiated solution” to the conflict.
Macron’s diplomatic adviser expressed his conviction that the new president will, like his predecessors, establish good relations with Morocco.
“He already has networks in politics, culture and economy mainly thanks to Moroccans living in France, who act as a bridge between our two countries.”