Praise be to God
May peace and blessings be upon the Prophet, His Kith and Kin
Today, we are celebrating the 13th anniversary of my accession to the throne. This landmark event attests to the depth of the long-lasting bond of the Bei’a, to the people’s and the throne’s unwavering loyalty towards each other, and to the harmony characterizing their relationship.
This celebration is also a befitting opportunity to confirm our country’s basic policies as they have been enshrined in the Kingdom’s new Constitution. The nation has unanimously perceived the new Constitution as a charter which reflects the nation’s spirit, given the prospects it offers for effective citizen participation.
As a result, we have a collective duty to work together in order to fully develop our distinctive model, and to strengthen the foundations of a modern Moroccan state imbued with the values of unity, progress, social justice and equity, thus reflecting a firm commitment to our time-honored identity.
Our nation has entered a new era, not by coincidence or because of unforeseen circumstances, but rather as the result of a well-thought-out policy and of a gradually implemented strategy that have been adopted since my accession to the throne. They are based on our sovereign will and are fully consistent with the citizens’ legitimate expectations.
One of our foremost concerns was to enhance harmony and cohesion within the Moroccan society by achieving reconciliation - between ourselves and with our history - through the work of the Justice and Reconciliation Commission, by rehabilitating the Amazigh language as one of the components of the Moroccan identity and as a heritage that belongs to all Moroccans, by expanding the scope of freedoms and human rights, and by granting women, through the new Family Law, a status that does them justice, helps them enjoy a dignified life and empowers them to take part in public affairs.
We have also carried out comprehensive economic reforms to consolidate and upgrade basic infrastructure in urban areas, and improve access to remote rural zones by providing the services and facilities needed in this regard. Similarly, we have sought to create conditions conducive to promoting investment, implementing a social development policy.
In this respect, we gave fresh impetus to social and development-oriented projects by launching, in 2005, the National Initiative for Human Development, which builds on a comprehensive vision designed to fight marginalization and poverty.
In my capacity as Commander of the Faithful, and in compliance with the duties devolved upon me by virtue of the sacred bond of the Bei’a, I have made sure that the Kingdom of Morocco remains a model country in terms of adherence to the tolerant, moderate Sunni Islam, in which there is no room for extremism, fanaticism, bigotry or insularity.
In this regard, the Higher Ulema Council has been enshrined in the Constitution as the body which is empowered to issue fatwas and provide me with its opinion on matters pertaining to the religious domain.
Being firmly committed to introducing reforms, we managed to launch the process of revisiting the Constitution using a participatory approach. Amending the Constitution was not an end in itself, but rather a means to complement the process of building a state based on institutions and the rule of law, and to achieve comprehensive development.
To accomplish these objectives, all the stakeholders concerned - the government, the nation’s representatives, elected local officials, political parties, trade unions, economic players and civil society - must shoulder their responsibilities, in accordance with the charter unanimously endorsed by the nation when it adopted the new Constitution.
In this respect, I shall continue, as always, to be the nation’s first servant, paying the utmost attention to the concerns of the citizens, seeking to find out, first hand, about their living conditions and to meet the aspirations of all segments of our population.
In the same manner, I have been taking a special interest in all members of our community abroad, listening carefully to their thoughts and views. I commend their unwavering loyalty to their country, their pride in their identity and their constructive role in the development of their homeland.
At a time when some Moroccan expatriates’ countries of residence are facing difficult circumstances, I want to express my support for and my solidarity with the members of our community who are suffering because of the current situation.
As our policy choices require that we set priorities and determine precise stages and time-frames for their actual implementation, we wanted, through a specific approach, to come up with a roadmap for carrying out reforms.
Since the rule of law is the source of all progress, I have decided the justice sector will to be the first to undergo major reform.
Given that the new Constitution puts the independence of the judiciary at the heart of the nation’s constitutional setup, I believe conditions for the success of this major reform project have now been met. I hope, in this regard, that the high authority in charge of the reform of the justice sector will adopt an open, participatory approach and prepare concrete, practical recommendations as quickly as possible.
The advanced regionalization initiative which I have launched and which was endorsed by the new Constitution is a major project that needs to be managed with forethought and the utmost care so as to introduce gradual, in-depth change in the organization of state institutions and in the relationship between central government and local authorities.
To rise to this challenge, we need to encourage the emergence of new elites, promote broad-based participation of women and young people, and open up prospects for competent citizens - men and women alike - who show a keen sense of responsibility and integrity.
I also urge the government to reform the civil service so as to meet the requirements of this new vision for territorial governance, which raises the question of devolution – a policy I have been advocating for more than a decade.
Hence, the government is expected to adopt a devolution charter that will make it possible to redeploy administrative services. This charter should help central government respond optimally to the needs of devolved departments, enabling them to realize the actual responsibilities lying with them in terms of project development and efficient implementation. At the same time, special attention should be given to the major project of carrying out the reforms needed for the implementation of the new territorial management system, using an approach based on good governance which makes human development the foremost concern.
Indeed, in order to tackle the challenges of territorial governance, we need to achieve fair, equitable human development that enables us to rectify shortcomings in rural areas and address the inadequacies which hamper growth in urban settings.
In addition to the judiciary, regionalization and territorial governance, which are top priorities for us, we need to pay special attention to setting in motion the institutions provided for in the new Constitution, including the ones relating to good governance, the fight against corruption, and the promotion of economic and social development in general.
The economic recession the world has experienced since 2008, the changes in international relations induced by that recession as a result of globalization, coupled with the social and political transformations in our region make it incumbent upon us to press ahead with reforms. The above events and changes reinforce our conviction concerning the pertinence of the socio-economic choices we made long ago. Thanks to these policies, we have been able to launch major projects that have strengthened our infrastructure and helped us provide the services needed for the country’s development. Sector-specific strategies have been laid down, using efficient criteria to achieve the desired objectives.
In this respect, we have focused on developing industrial and modern technology sectors, creating hubs and major integrated economic centers than boost investment and help our enterprises sharpen their competitive edge.
Given the keen interest I take in the farming sector, I believe we should further promote Morocco’s Green Plan, which is one of the key elements for agricultural development in our country. We therefore need to increase the activities included in the Plan so as to expand and diversify our production base and upgrade smallholders’ capabilities through solidarity-based programs that improve the living conditions of rural populations, especially as Morocco has experienced challenging climate conditions last year.
I therefore call, once again, on the government to make sure sector-specific strategies complement each other. I also invite government officials to adopt vigilance, monitoring and assessment mechanisms in order to enhance coordination, measure efficiency and ensure the optimal use of budget appropriations. Efforts should also be made to identify innovative funding alternatives to give strong impetus to all our strategies.
I must insist, in this respect, on the need to further develop contract mechanisms for partnership between the public and private sectors in order to make the best possible use of available investment resources.
As we are aware of the importance of this partnership, we have adopted a ground-breaking approach by creating the Moroccan investment authority, which brings together national sectoral investment funds.
The investment authority seeks to promote investment in all productive sectors and encourage partnership between businesses and government institutions.
Our goal is to enable our country to access funding opportunities offered by foreign sovereign funds, especially investment funds in the Gulf sister nations. In this regard, I should like to commend their active contribution to and support for development projects in our country.
In this respect, we should underscore, once again, tourism’s important role in promoting employment and creating national wealth, given Morocco’s varied natural assets and its rich cultural heritage.
Since 2001, we have been implementing a comprehensive strategy, building on specific programs that have contributed to the growth and development of tourism in our country.
As part of Vision 2020, we have sought to further develop the sector by setting up the “Wissal” fund for the promotion of investment in tourism, which primarily aims to promote sustainable development. As a result, Morocco is a preferred tourist destination in the Mediterranean.
I have consistently sought to make the nation’s human resources - especially our promising young people - the central element and the ultimate goal of all our development endeavors. This is what Morocco seeks to reflect through the programs and projects of the National Initiative for Human Development.
Considering the positive results achieved through this National Initiative in terms of improving the conditions of deprived segments of the population, I have decided to increase its activities - especially those that generate income - and to expand the scope of its action. To this end, we will be launching the fifth rehabilitation program to tackle shortcomings in the most impoverished regions which still lack basic infrastructure. I call upon the government to take the measures needed for the implementation of this program.
As I am keen to achieve justice and provide assistance to the most impoverished segments of our population, I have sought to make sure a healthcare scheme for the benefit of needy people is implemented. The scheme is the result of a long preparatory process in which the Kingdom has been involved for the last ten years, the aim being to provide assistance to needy people.
The government is therefore called upon to do all it can to make this scheme a success by carefully identifying beneficiaries and ensuring good service provision.
To preserve the scheme’s humanitarian objective, we need to make sure the plan is not exploited by any party for political considerations that would deflect it from its noble goal, knowing that such a course of action could entail risks not only for the health domain but for other social sectors as well.
I also call upon the government to meet the citizens’ social demands and to make sure the country’s finance policy is properly managed in order to preserve our development potential as well as the nation’s credibility in the international arena.
Since I am fully aware of the need to safeguard the future of coming generations, I have always emphasized the indispensable link between development and environmental protection so as to ensure sustainable development. This is why we have been working with great resolve to preserve and manage our natural resources properly, making sure they contribute to our economic development.
The ambitious wind and solar energy program I have launched falls within the framework of this policy. It is designed to help us reduce our conventional energy imports and alleviate the energy burden on our economy.
The Moroccan diplomatic service will continue to uphold the nation’s longstanding values in the international arena, namely our self-confidence, respect for international legitimacy, compliance with measures that enhance international peace and security, support for just causes and consolidation of international cooperation in all sectors.
With respect to our immediate geographic area, the Maghreb, the major changes occurring in the region provide an historic opportunity to take the Maghreb Union from the current state of inertia to a more dynamic status that can help us achieve sustainable, integrated development.
I called, in the past, for the emergence of a new Maghreb order to put an end to the current state of division in the region and address the low level of trade so as to build a strong, open Maghreb bloc.
Until that strategic objective has been achieved, Morocco will carry on with its endeavors to reinforce its bilateral relations with all its Maghreb partners - including our neighbor and sister nation Algeria - in order to respond to the pressing, legitimate aspirations of peoples in the region, particularly in connection with the free movement of citizens, goods, capital and services.
To this end, the Kingdom of Morocco reiterates its intention to continue to engage, in good faith, in the negotiation process aimed at finding a final solution to the regional artificial dispute over the Moroccan Sahara, within the framework of Morocco's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and on the basis of the autonomy proposal made by Morocco, which the international community described as serious and credible.
Morocco is just as keen to be actively engaged in that process as it is determined to deal firmly with any attempt to challenge its best interests, or undermine the basic criteria for the negotiations.
To reach a lasting political solution within the framework of the United Nations Organization, and building on Morocco’s historical legitimacy and the pertinence of its legal standpoint, our country has been actively working to achieve advanced regionalization in the Moroccan Sahara, while forging ahead with major social and economic development projects in a region which is dear to me and to all Moroccans.
With respect to the Arab world, political facts on the ground now require, more than ever before, that joint Arab action be promoted in order to meet the aspirations of Arab peoples, in a spirit of active solidarity and mutual commitment to fruitful cooperation and to the best interests of all Arab peoples, thus building a common Arab future.
In this regard, we appreciate the decisions which have been made concerning the strategic partnership between Morocco and the Gulf Cooperation Council, and I should like, in this respect, to reiterate Morocco’s firm commitment to expanding its relations with the Gulf sister nations and to strengthening our ties in all sectors.
Current developments in the world should, by no means, overshadow the need for the international community to address the key question, which is the Palestinian issue, in an effective, meaningful manner.
It is necessary today to reconsider the way the community of nations has been tackling this issue, knowing that the overriding, inevitable objective is the establishment of an independent, sovereign and viable Palestinian state, within the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The Sahel and Sahara region is facing many dangers which threaten the unity and territorial integrity of states in the area. The international community is therefore called upon to devote urgent attention to the region by undertaking purposeful initiatives in this respect.
As regards sub-Saharan African countries, the Kingdom of Morocco has remained actively involved in effective cooperation projects aimed at supporting local human development programs in priority sectors.
With respect to the European continent, Morocco’s relationship with the European Union has entered a new era which, in my opinion, constitutes a basis for a promising geo-political approach to reconsider the foundations of the Euro-Mediterranean relationship, building on shared interests and joint initiatives.
Now is the time to give the Union for the Mediterranean fresh momentum and a new direction so that it may become a true catalyst and a driving force for the achievement of shared prosperity on both shores of the Mediterranean.
As regards our steadily developing relations with all European Union countries, I should like to commend the depth and breadth of our historical relations with neighboring Spain, which are reinforced by the close ties I enjoy with His Majesty King Juan Carlos I, and the historical relations between the Royal families of the two neighboring countries.
In the current difficult context, I want to reiterate my country’s commitment to finding new opportunities to promote favorable economic conditions. The goal is to create wealth for both our countries, thereby giving tangible substance to our active solidarity. I have asked the Government to act along these lines, give the matter all the attention it deserves and speed up implementation.
In addition to promoting its relations with neighboring countries, the Kingdom is carrying on with its efforts to strengthen and diversify promising partnerships with other regions of the world. In this regard, special emphasis is being laid on human development as part of tangible South-South cooperation mechanisms with our partners in developing countries.
Morocco, which will pursue its untiring action within international organizations, reiterates its commitment to promote multilateral cooperation, in accordance with the lofty objectives enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations Organization.
As we commemorate this landmark national event and take stock of the reforms introduced and of the development initiatives launched; as we explore the promising prospects for the future and start implementing the Constitution that ushers in a new era, we cannot but reiterate our loyalty to and our reverence for the country’s liberator, my venerable grandfather His Majesty King Mohammed V, and the architect of modern Morocco, my venerated father His Majesty King Hassan II - may they rest in peace - as well as the martyrs who gave their lives for the country’s freedom, independence and territorial integrity, and who remained true to their covenant with the Almighty. May God reward them for all they did for their homeland.
I also want to commend and pay tribute to our Royal Armed Forces, the Royal Gendarmerie, the National Police Force, the central, regional and local authorities, the Auxiliary Forces and the Emergency Services for their constant mobilization and untiring action - under my leadership - to defend Morocco’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to safeguard the nation’s security and stability.
In these blessed days of the holy month of Ramadan, during which prayers are destined to be answered by the Almighty, I pray that He may inspire us and grant every success to those entrusted with the task of serving the public interest, so that we may reinforce the rule of law and the institution-based state, ensure our citizens lead a dignified life, and promote coexistence, concord, national unity and territorial integrity.
“If Allah finds any good in your hearts, He will give you something better”. True is the Word of God.
Wassalamu alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh.