Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said Thursday that media attacks and legal harassment are targeting his country to undermine ties with the European Union.
This came weeks after Belgian authorities implicated Morocco in a major corruption scandal.
Last month, Belgian prosecutors said they suspect a former EU lawmaker, Pier Antonio Panzeri, “of intervening politically with members working at the European Parliament for the benefit of Qatar and Morocco, against payment.” As a result, four people are being held in custody and charged with corruption.
According to the Morrocan media, the authorities communicated with lobbying groups, not criminal or corrupt organizations.
Speaking at a press conference in Rabat alongside the senior diplomat of the EU, Josep Borrell, Bourita claimed that relations between the EU and Morocco are being attacked.
In an unusual response to Moroccogate, Bourita criticized the Belgian judicial system, where Moroccogate is still being looked into and investigated.
“This partnership is faced with continuous judicial harassment. This partnership is faced with repeated media attacks. This partnership is also faced with attacks in European institutions, particularly in the parliament through questions targeting Morocco, which are the result of calculations and a desire to harm this partnership,” Bourita said.
Meetings were also held with Aziz Akhannouch, the head of the Moroccan government, who hosted Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, in Rabat on Thursday.
Borrell is in town on a two-day visit to discuss ways to improve ties between the two nations on all fronts, especially regarding security and trade.
In a statement highlighting the value of collaboration between Morocco and the EU, the president of the government’s office said that trade between the two parties has tripled over the previous ten years and has now surpassed €45 billion (about $48 billion).
Le Soir exposed Moroccogate in the first few days of December, where former Italian MEP Antonio Panzeri organized a “network” of MEPs and NGOs to lobby and exert pressure on behalf of Morocco. The same network was charged with conducting lobbying for Qatar.