By Humphrey Carter
THE Prime Minister of Morocco, Driss Jettou, told delegates at the Formentor Forum yesterday that the solution to Europe's immigration problem does not lie in closing the borders.

Referring in particular to illegal immigration across the Straits of Gibraltar from north Africa to the southern Spanish coasts, the prime minister said that the answer lies in co-operation between the international community, especially Europe, and North Africa.

Driss Jettou called on Europe to help develop training programmes and employment in North Africa, a reason for the thousands of people who try to come to Europe, to remain at home.

The Moroccan prime minister said that development and aid is the answer as opposed to the new transit and process camps being set up by the EU, under a new pilot scheme, for asylum seekers from Morocco, Libya, Algeria and Tunisia.

He said that Morocco is doing all it can to fight illegal immigration “we're living up to our responsibilities,” the prime minister said. “We're working in full co-operation with our friends and neighbours and in total respect to human dignity.” Driss Jettou embraced the European Union's new policies towards Morocco and said that the country's relationship with Spain has never been so strong and promising. “We are working hard to develop and advance as a country,” he said. He added that Morocco is working on adapting and modernising its legislation in order to become part of the European Union market place while improving the country's infrastructure, in particular road and rail communications.

As an example, he pointed out the reforms being carried out to the country's Family Code, the judiciary and the development of a free economy.
Driss Jettou explained that Morocco has decided to move closer to Europe, not only for geographical reasons, “but because we share the same ideals and convictions.” However, he said that the developing of a closer relationship between Europe and Morocco has to be a two-way process.
He praised the steps being taken by Spain to work with Morocco in order to find solutions to the common problems the two countries share.
He reminded delegates that Morocco condemned the March 11 bombings in Madrid, pointing out that Morocco has also suffered at the hands of terrorism when fundamentalists targeted the Spanish cultural centre in Casablanca in May last year.

He did, however, dodge the issues raised by two Moroccan secretaries of state with the Spanish prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, last week. They said that the King of Morocco is concerned about his country's image in Spain, and criticism of his efforts to combat terrorism and illegal immigration. “I'm an optimist. The relationship between Spain and Morocco is exemplary. I would much rather see this friendly country as Morocco's second business partner,” he said.


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