wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
06RABAT484 2006-03-17 16:13:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Rabat
Cable title:  


pdf how-to read a cable

1. (C) Summary: During a recent two-hour lunch with
Polcouns, Turkish Embassy First Secretary Turker Ari painted
a diverse portrait of Morocco-Turkish relations, touching on
a series of planned and already executed high-level visits,
extensive relations between the two countries' Islamist
parties (despite some gaffes on the part of the Moroccan
Party for Justice and Development), with some rough patches
in cooperation between Turkey and Morocco on G-8/BMENA
initiatives. End Summary.

High-Level Exchanges


2. (C) Over lunch in late February, Turkish Embassy First
Secretary Turker Ari outlined a vigorous series of recent

high-level exchanges between Morocco and Turkey, coming on
the heels of reciprocal visits by the two countries' prime
ministers in the last two years (PM Jettou visited Turkey in
April 2004, and PM Erdogan visited Morocco in March 2005).
The key visits have included:

-- FAR General Bennani: Ari said that the head of Morocco's
armed forces made a five-day visit to Turkey in late January

2006. The GOT "rolled out the red carpet" for Bennani.
Turkey is interested in expanding arms sales to North Africa,
especially in the area of communications equipment such as
walkie-talkies. A delegation will visit Morocco in the near
future to pursue such sales. The two countries are exploring
signing a formal memorandum of understanding on military

-- Turkey's Minister of Justice had visited recently and was
impressed with the Moroccan MOJ's advances in "e-justice,"
which among other things allows the Ministry to track all
court cases electronically, and looked to borrow some ideas
from Morocco.

-- Turkey's FM planned to visit Morocco in early April. The
minister was a "senior Islamist" and planned to meet with the
leadership of the Islamist PJD. Ari commented as an aside
that the foreign minister had not been happy with the
handling of some of his recent visits by Turkish embassies.

Contacts between the Islamists


3. (C) Ari said that the Moroccan and Turkish Islamist
parties continued to maintain good relations and close
contact at senior levels. Ari agreed that the PJD, through
visits to several European countries recently and to the US
later this spring, was putting strong emphasis on deepening
international ties. In that vein, Ari described as clumsy
the PJD's recent invitation to members of a fringe Islamist
party in Turkey, Saadat, to visit Morocco. This move had
annoyed some Turkish party leaders, Ari said, and
demonstrated the PJD's international diplomacy was not yet
very mature.

G-8/BMENA Concerns


4. (C) On the negative side, Ari complained that, for such
major players in G-8/BMENA initiatives, the Moroccans were
not very cooperative when it was Turkey's turn to host events
and conferences on reform. Ari said Moroccan participation
at recent BMENA events in Turkey was minimal; in the February
6-7 Istanbul Conference on Women, for example, Morocco had
sent only two civil society representatives (Amina Bouayach
from the Moroccan Organization of Human Rights and Halima
Zine el Abedine from Joussour) but no one from the
government, not even a representative from the Moroccan
embassy in Ankara. Ari hoped for better at an upcoming event
in June, and said Turkish Ambassador Akin Algan would lobby
the GOM (specifically MFA Director of Bilateral Affairs
Amrani) for stronger Moroccan participation.

Trade and Tourism


5. (SBU) Ari noted that the free trade agreement between
Turkey and Morocco went into effect on January 1, 2006, the
same time as the US-Morocco FTA. Ari was not particularly
impressed with the Turkish FTA, noting that the primary
motivation for Turkey -- despite what some Moroccans thought
-- was to harmonize Turkish legislation with the EU. The FTA
is more about Turkish relations with the EU than about
Morocco, Ari said.

6. (SBU) Ari said the volume of trade between the two
countries was about half a billion dollars a year. Tourism
was low, with about 22,000 Turks per year visiting Morocco
and only about 5600 Moroccans visiting Turkey. Nevertheless,
Turkish Airlines' three flights a week between Casablanca and
Istanbul were running at 80 percent capacity, which Ari
thought respectable.

Mauritania Travel


7. (C) Ari noted that Turkish Ambassador Algan, whose
jurisdiction includes Mauritania, would be traveling in the
near future to Nouakchott to assess the situation there and
expected to meet Colonel Fal.
Visit Embassy Rabat's Classified Website;