Morocco’s ambassador to Russia, Lotfi Bouchaâra, and the Russian deputy foreign minister, Sergey Vershinin, had a meeting in Moscow on the settlement of the Sahara issue, as part of the continuation of the Moroccan offensive on the issue. With the intensification of discussions, Morocco hopes to convince Russia, which has always displayed a favourable position towards Algeria on the Sahara issue.
In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry commented on the diplomatic exchange by saying that « an in-depth exchange of views took place on issues on the agenda of the UN Security Council, with a focus on the resolution of the Western Sahara issue. « A just and lasting solution is only possible through political means on the basis of the relevant Security Council resolutions, » the same source added.
Since 2011, all but one of the Security Council’s resolutions have welcomed « Morocco’s serious and credible efforts to advance the process towards a resolution. However, the UN Security Council resolutions have not yet taken a final decision on the Sahara. The most recent UN Security Council resolution, 2548, urges « the parties and neighbouring states » to engage productively in its political process to find a « realistic, agreed and mutually acceptable solution to end the conflict in Western Sahara ».
The Russian Foreign Ministry also stressed « the importance of the appointment, as soon as possible, of a new personal envoy of the UN Secretary General ». The two countries have had numerous discussions on the issue and Russia remains open to developing stronger bilateral relations with Morocco. These relations go beyond politics, as Morocco is now Russia’s third largest trading partner in Africa.
The Cherifian kingdom exported around 4 billion dirhams to Russia in 2019, while Algeria exported only 75.2 million dirhams, mainly fruit and vegetables. Morocco also relies on Russia to import coal. In December 2020, Morocco passed a bill allowing Russia to operate in the Moroccan exclusive economic zone (EEZ), allowing it to continue its fishing operations, including off Morocco’s Saharan coast.
Algeria also exports tropical fruits to Russia and receives mainly explosives and weapons.