MAP - Thursday, September 5th 2019

Spanish Interior Minister Highlights 'High Level of Mutual Trust' between Spain and Morocco

Madrid - Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska highlighted, on Wednesday in Rabat, the "high level of mutual trust" between his country and Morocco, which helps foster bilateral cooperation in many fields. "Cooperation between Spain and Morocco is excellent" and encompasses sensitive topics such as the management of migratory inflow and the fight against organized crime and terrorism, the minister said in a statement issued by his department at the end of his meeting with his Moroccan counterpart Abdelouafi Laftit.

During this meeting, Grande-Marlaska said that cooperation between the two countries in the fight against illegal immigration has contributed to a significant decrease of 41.9% in the number of illegal migrant arrivals in Spain by sea and land during the first eight months of 2019, compared to the same period of 2018. "To curb the rise of arrivals (of migrants) on the Spanish coast, the strong support and cooperation of the Moroccan authorities were indispensable," said the Spanish minister, quoted in the statement, emphasizing the operational cooperation between the Spanish and Moroccan security forces in the fight against illegal immigration networks.

Marked by the sharing of information and police collaboration, this cooperation helped to dismantle several networks active in the field of illegal immigration, he said. According to Grande-Marlaska, since 2018, a total of 15 networks specializing in illegal immigration were dismantled and 155 smugglers were caught, fruit of the cooperation between the relevant services of the two countries, calling for continuous vigilance to face the new working methods used by illegal immigration networks. Spain always reminds the European institutions of the crucial importance of Morocco as a strategic partner in immigration and other areas, said the Spanish Minister.

Regarding counterterrorism, Grande-Marlaska stressed the high level of understanding and trust which enables the implementation of joint operations against terrorist cells. This cooperation has resulted in over 21 joint operations in this area since 2014, he said, recalling that the last operation took place on July 5. The minister also seized this opportunity to underline the several joint operations led in recent years against drug trafficking and organized crime networks, referring to the latest operation involving the security forces of both countries that had allowed, on July 19, to dismantle an international drug trafficking network, seize 16 tons of cannabis and arrest 23 people in Morocco and Spain.