The return of King Juan Carlos to the front ranks of Spain’s activity abroad is good news, as it contributes to efforts to rebuild Spain’s international image, which has suffered in recent years.
At the same time, it pays desirable attention to a neighbor as important as Morocco, with which Spain has important human, economic and security concerns. The tensions of recent times seem to have been relegated to the past, and though no major agreements are expected to derive from this trip, good relations require occasional visits at the highest institutional level.
The king arrived in the southern country accompanied by a sizeable business delegation. Economic diplomacy, which is unquestionably one of the most important aspects of foreign relations, is now taking place in a context of strong expansion of trade relations between Spain and Morocco. However, the participation of major companies is still far below that of important French investors, traditionally more firmly implanted in the Kingdom of Morocco. The presence of King Juan Carlos may be of some use in this area.
The king arrived in the southern country accompanied by a sizeable business delegation
The counterpoint is a slight downturn in Spanish tourism to Morocco, and a decrease in the amount of remittances sent back home by the 800,000 Moroccans who live in Spain.
Both of these phenomena are clearly the results of the circumstances of the economic crisis.
The Spanish king’s visit underlines the stability of Mohammed VI’s kingdom, in comparison with the recent turmoil seen in other North African societies. The Alaouite monarch has gone to some lengths to roll out every red carpet for the visit. This may be interpreted as a gesture of goodwill aimed at unblocking some of the processes relating to the adoption of Moroccan children by about 50 Spanish families, which have been held up for some time.
On the Spanish side, not only have five members of the present government accompanied the king to Rabat, but also three former foreign ministers. This participation by political figures who have previously been involved in the bilateral relationship between Spain and Morocco can also be interpreted in terms of domestic politics, showing as it does a real desire for moderation, and for the encouragement of cooperation between different political sectors when it comes to working out a common policy of state, whatever the government of the moment may be.
The monarch’s health has been slowly improving, and he is obviously making a notable effort to reestablish normality in his public duties, and thus to continue contributing to Spanish society.
This is an attitude that is most salutary and necessary, in the midst of a feeling of political crisis and of waning confidence in our national institutions, brought about by events both at home and abroad.