You have been at the Ambassador post to Russia since 2008. Do you remember your first impressions of Russia? How did they transform during this time?
Our countries are connected with very old relations. They date back to the era of Catherine II the Great, Empress of Russia and Sultan Mohammed bin Abdullah.
When I was appointed as Ambassador in Moscow in 2008, I realized that Russia is an extremely important country for Morocco. We must strengthen the strategic partnership, the agreement of which were signed in 2002 by His majesty the King Mohammed VI and the President Vladimir Putin.
During my residence time in Russia I witnessed the great achievements and stages passed by Russia in all areas whether it was in technology or other areas where Russia traditionally privileged, such as space industry or energy.
Currently Russia plays the major role at the international arena. It is a reliable and faithful partner.
How do you see the potential of trade and investment cooperation between our countries?
- His Majesty the King’s visit to Moscow in May 2016 strengthened the strategic partnership with Russia and led to the signing of 16 agreements on economic, political security and cultural areas. This visit helped to strengthen bilateral cooperation in traditional industries and to lay the foundation for fruitful interaction in new areas.
The Intergovernmental Joint Commission, whose 6th meeting was held in Moscow in July 2017, established working groups on deepening bilateral relations particularly in sectors of investment, trade, energy, and infrastructure. It offers to develop new sectors such as renewable energy, advanced technologies, innovations and industrial cooperation.
How does Russian-Moroccan cooperation in the energy sector develop today?
- We support very close cooperation in the energy sector, which is an important direction of our relations. We have a working group on energy, which works tirelessly and a number of projects for strengthening this partnership and its expansion in such areas as mining, water resources, electrical energy and renewable energy.
What results has Morocco achieved towards implementation of anti-terrorism reforms, including in the religious sphere?
- When His Majesty the King came to the crown, our political, democratic, economy and social reforms picked up the pace. Certainly, the religious sphere also has been reformed. This reform stands for tolerance and deliberation and it brings convincing results. In this regard, currently it represents regional and international models.
As to the fight against terrorism and extremism, the Kingdom has applied a multi-aspect approach which includes the security sector, the religious reform, social and economic development and the fight against marginalization and in which all these aspects mutually reinforce each other.
Besides, this Moroccan approach is considered as an example at the international level.
Tell us, please, about the work conducted in inter-Muslims connections within existing agreements with such republics as Dagestan, Bashkortostan and Tatarstan.
- During His Majesty the King’s visit in March 2016, we signed the Memorandum of Understanding with some Islamic High Councils among which the Moscow Islamic High Council. We have good cooperation with Bashkortostan, as well as with Tatarstan. In these regions we organized and took part in many cultural events and in the nearest future we are planning to visit Dagestan to establish fruitful cooperation based on tolerance and culture of moderation, which formed the Muslim religion.
On February 21, 2017, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations, met with the diplomatic representatives of eleven Arab countries in Russia. You participated in this meeting. Tell us about your impressions.
Metropolitan Hilarion is a very interesting and charismatic personality. I highly appreciated the openness of his views and respect for differences to which he calls for. By the way, his book translated into Arabic and which he, using the opportunity, represented to the representatives of Arab countries is the poem about tolerance and love for others. We share his approach since we are all brothers.
What can you tell us about tourism cooperation? Has the number of Russian tourists increased?
- Russia takes a priority place in the tourism market of Morocco. We are very optimistic about our cooperation with Russian authorities for bringing more Russian tourists to Morocco. We consider this area to be direction that will help our friendly nations to deepen relations of mutual perception and understanding. That’s why we strive to make every effort to increase the flow of Russian tourists by ensuring them a pleasant vacation and optimal security conditions.
What three famous Moroccans, except Badr Hari, should every foreigner know?
- Actually, there are many celebrities and famous people in Morocco almost in all spheres. However, if you ask to choose three persons, I will mention, for example, the Moroccan athletics legend Hicham El Guerrou, who won many titles and world records in the 2000-s. Amina Senhaji is a world-wide woman scientist. She is the first woman from the Arab world, who got into NASA. And finally, Mrs. Rajaa Naji Mekkaoui. She is the academician and the member of the High Council of Moroccan Ulema.