The recent meeting between Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska and his Moroccan counterpart, Abdelouafi Laftit, in Rabat marked a significant step in reinforcing the strategic partnership between the two nations in matters of interior affairs. This meeting, the thirteenth of its kind, underscores the excellent state of relations and the commitment to continuous bilateral cooperation.
During the meeting, Minister Marlaska expressed gratitude for Morocco’s commitment and efforts in addressing the common challenge of irregular migration and combating human trafficking, which he termed as a “harsh and inhumane scourge.” The ministers pledged to continue the Spanish-Moroccan model of bilateral preventive cooperation, hailed by Marlaska as a leading example amid increasing migration pressure on the EU’s southern borders and in Morocco.
Marlaska highlighted a notable decrease of over 41% in irregular arrivals to the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, emphasizing the collective effort in monitoring the external borders of these autonomous cities.
Moreover, the ministers discussed technological improvements in enhancing border crossing fluidity, with Marlaska noting the implementation of an automated entry and exit system, aligning with other border checkpoints, and ensuring mutual interests and appropriate controls.
The meeting also focused on strengthening counter-terrorism and combating organized crime. Minister Marlaska emphasized the effectiveness of joint efforts in counter-terrorism throughout 2023, stating that international support and cooperation enhance effectiveness in both prevention and prosecution.
In the past year, Spain and Morocco collaborated in 14 counter-terrorism operations, resulting in more than 80 arrests. The joint operation in December, involving Spain’s General Information Commission and Morocco’s General Directorate for Territorial Surveillance (DGST) in Nador and Melilla, successfully dismantled a network specialized in recruiting jihadists.
Additionally, civil protection emerged as a shared area of interest. Marlaska, during his visit to Rabat, highlighted Morocco’s continued receipt of assistance and technical capabilities from Spain, evident in the aid provided during the earthquake that struck the country in September.
Additionally, Marlaska praised the bilateral cooperation that facilitated the successful execution of Operation “Marhaba” between June 15 and September 15, 2023. This operation, resulting in over 3.2 million passengers and the highest-ever vehicle ascents, showcased the commendable collaboration that is expected to persist in 2024.