Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Morocco to the Republic of Bulgaria on the occasion of the commemoration of the 66th Anniversary of the "Three Glorious Feasts" of her country

- Morocco celebrates the Independence Day on November 18, what is the significance of this event for the Moroccan people?

- The Moroccan people celebrate this year with pride and enthusiasm not only the Independence Day but also the 66th Anniversary of the Three Glorious Feasts, namely the Feast of the Return, the Renaissance Feast and the Independence Day, from 16 until November 18, 2021. These celebrations symbolize the victory of the common will of the King and the people in the national struggle for freedom, independence and unity.

The commemoration of these events occupies a special place among Moroccans in view of the values ​​of patriotism and the union they represent. It is also a privileged moment to highlight a permanent mobilization of Moroccans: Monarchy, citizens and actors of political, economic and civil society on the path of modernity, democracy, progress and socioeconomic development of the country.

It was on November 16, dubbed "Return Day", that the late King Mohammed V and His Companion in struggle, the late King Hassan II returned to the country. A date that coincided with the Anniversary of His enthronement in 1927, after the death of Fis father, Sultan Moulay Youssef.

King Mohammed V had associated His return with the victory of a people, after years of resistance and struggle which were expressed in particular through the presentation, on January 11, 1944, of the Manifesto of Independence, the historic visit of the late King Mohammed V in Tangier, marked by a historic speech delivered on April 10, 1947 on the unity of Morocco and its Independence, and the appeal by the authorities of the Protectorate to the decision to exile the Sovereign and His family on August 20, 1953. This decision ended up exasperating the struggle and the confrontations with the authorities of the occupation to lead to the return of the late King Mohammed V to the motherland. A return, which put an end to a separation of more than two years, in Corsica then in Madagascar, and which was celebrated triumphantly by the Moroccan people, impatient to recover their freedom and their dignity.

In this regard, to increase the pressure on the colonial occupation and reduce it to more reason than the late King Self-proclaimed Independence, on the occasion of His speech of November 18, 1955, and to extend the Homecoming Day by Feast of "the inbiâat" (the rebirth of a people and a nation). This had given rise to the "Three Glorious". In fact, surrendering to the evidence, the colonial authorities eventually recognized the Independence of Morocco on March 2, 1956.

The process of decolonization and the completion of the territorial unit of Morocco continued under the enlightened leadership of the late King Hassan II, in this case with the recovery of the city of Sidi Ifni in 1969, from the southern provinces after the organization of the Green March in 1975 and then the recovery of the Province of Oued Eddahab in 1979.

- Since the enthronement of King Mohammed VI on July 30, 1999, Morocco has given the impression of a modern, open and moving country. What are the political and socioeconomic advances that have marked your country?

- Indeed, once independence was acquired, Morocco very quickly embarked on the path of building a democratic state, which is part of modernity in perfect harmony with its ancestral history, of which the political pluralism, cultural diversity and economic liberalism constitute pivotal foundations.

Today, under the leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, it is the same spirit and the same fervor that animates Moroccans: leaders and citizens. Clearly defined objectives and appropriate resources mobilized, major strategic development projects, both at the level of infrastructure and at the socioeconomic level, are regularly launched. The Morocco of modernity is in perpetual construction. Among these flagship projects, we can cite in particular:

       - the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH) and the extension of social protection:

The INDH, which was launched on May 18, 2005 by His Majesty King Mohamed VI and the 2nd phase of which ran from 2011 to 2015, has helped reduce poverty and social exclusion, create a dynamic in promoting human development, recognizing human dignity and strengthening social cohesion. As for it, the 3rd phase of the INDH (2019-2023) made it possible, mainly, to stimulate the pace of implementation of the various projects of the two previous phases, in order to achieve the set objectives, through innovative approaches, leading to a better perspective of human development in its sustainable dimension. It is a participatory community development program, in the sense that it is the inhabitants of the target urban and rural communes who express their needs in terms of equipment and social services, support for income-generating activities, capacity building and social animation. The INDH also intends to strengthen the action of the State and local communities without, however, replacing the programs of ministerial departments or the economic and social development plans of local communities. To this end, it offers additional financing capacity to support actions allowing rapid and sustainable growth of human development indices to appreciable levels.

The social protection system is also a social project "par excellence", which has enabled the expansion of medical coverage to all social strata including the self-employed, has been extended to students since 2016.

Discussions are underway today on a strategy for setting up a national integrated social protection system, a need increasingly felt with the rise in medical need following the health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this context, by relying on its own resources, Morocco has set a fine example of unity, organization and mobilization. The approach adopted by the Kingdom has been distinguished by its proactive character, its consistency and its comprehensiveness. She reconciled the imperative of complying with health restrictions with the economic and social challenges. Under the enlightened leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, Morocco has handled this ordeal with determination, serenity and wisdom. Moreover, today, the results are encouraging, 22,500,000 people have been fully vaccinated (2 doses) which represents 60.9% of the population and 1,570,000 have received the 3rd dose and 48,400,000 doses have been administered to date.

     - Reinforcement of infrastructures:

Since his enthronement in 1999, His Majesty King Mohammed VI has been deeply concerned with strengthening and diversifying infrastructure, pillars of all socioeconomic development. In this regard, the last two decades have seen the deployment of a large network of strategic infrastructures, including in particular:

- The Tangier Med seaport, launched in 2007, which required 78 billion dirhams of public and private investment, constitutes an industrial hub with a capacity of 9,000,000 containers, 7,000,000 passengers, 1,000,000 vehicles, 700,000 trucks of "Transit International Routier" and it has 6 industrial and logistics free zones for more than 1,100 companies representing an annual export turnover of more than 5.9 billion dollars. Morocco continues to establish its leadership through this exceptional project on an African scale as the most connected country by sea.

- The expansion of the motorway network, which to date reaches more than 1,800 km in total, plays an important role in the connectivity of large metropolises.

- The development of rail links, in particular with the entry into service in November 2018 of a high-speed line measuring 186 km which is the first link in the Moroccan LGV project, aims to provide the country by 2030 with 1,500 km high speed rail lines;

With such achievements, Morocco has thus become a regional economic "hub": 1st in North Africa, 3rd in Africa and 6th in the Arab world in terms of infrastructure.

The southern Moroccan provinces have also seen the establishment of a new development model in which the State has played a structuring role in terms of infrastructure, in effective access of citizens to essential services and in the fight against poverty. This plan (2016-2021), which was launched by HM King Mohammed VI on November 6, 2015, was endowed with an amount of 77 billion dirhams before being increased to 85 billion (i.e. nearly 9.4 billions of dollars). It aims to accelerate the development and socioeconomic integration of the Moroccan Sahara. This program is structured, in particular, around structuring projects such as the Tiznit-Laâyoune-Dakhla expressway (road), the fishing port of Lamhiriz and the Dakhla Atlantic seaport. The creation of a maritime line of coastal navigation dedicated to goods connecting Casablanca and Dakhla, the reopening of two maritime lines connecting the Canary Islands to Tarfaya, on the one hand, and to Laâyoune, on the other hand, are also planned in This program. Added to this is the construction of a University Hospital Center in Laâyoune and a technopole in Foum El Oued. This program involved program contracts for the implementation of more than 700 projects. Up to the end of December 2020, some 179 projects have been completed and are currently in the operational phase at a total cost of 13.2 billion dirhams, while 336 projects are in the process of being completed and 236 others, endowed with a budget of 25 billion dirhams, are in the launch phase.

The southern Moroccan provinces supported by this development plan have aroused the interest of several friendly countries, recently to come and open their consular representations in Dakhla and Laâyoune in recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over its Sahara, on the one hand, and in perspective of South-South economic cooperation from these cities destined to become a continental hub.

       - Renewable energies:

Morocco has bet on national and renewable energy production: hydraulic energy with the policy of building dams initiated under the reign of the late King Hassan II and continued since the accession of His Majesty King Mohammed to the Throne of His Glorious Ancestor, as well as wind and solar power. The increased interest given to the development of new renewable energies, which resulted in the inauguration of the Noor Ouarzazate complex (developed in several phases), the 1st solar project developed within the framework of the Moroccan energy strategy, aimed at increasing the share renewable energies in the national electricity mix to more than 52% by 2030. Thanks to this Royal vision, the country is also committed to the ecological transition aiming at carbon neutrality. Moreover, Morocco hosted the COP 22 on climate change in Marrakech, in November 2016, and His Majesty King Mohamed VI took part in the "One Planet Summit" (Paris, December 12, 2017).

       - "Green Morocco" (PMV):

In April 2008 the Moroccan government launched an ambitious agricultural development program, known as the "Green Morocco" plan (PMV), which places agriculture among the country's priorities. The main objective of this plan is to make agriculture a performing sector capable of becoming an engine of the economy. Its second objective is to fight against poverty and maintain a large population in rural areas. Private investment, accompanied by public aid if necessary, is a key factor in this agricultural development. All sectors are concerned, in order to preserve territorial and social balances, while taking into account aspects respectful of the environment. The implementation of this plan has greatly contributed to the sustainable development of the agricultural sector. Indeed, the "Green Morocco plan" allowed the economic level to double the agricultural GDP during the period between 2007 and 2018. Similarly, the contribution of agriculture to the growth of the GDP, increased from 7% during the decade. 1998-2008 at 17% during the decade 2008-2018.

       - A new development model:

Anxious to put in place a new development model in line with the changes in the country and the challenges posed by globalization, and above all to find adequate responses to the pressing demands and growing needs of citizens, HM King Mohamed VI has established on December 12, 2019, a Special Commission on the Development Model, made up of eminent personalities with proven experience and skills. This Commission organized a series of hearings, workshops, meetings and collective reflections involving all the forces of the nation in an approach that is both inclusive and participatory, the objective being to make a diagnosis without complacency, to identify strengths and weaknesses, collect complaints, remarks, visions, but above all proposals and avenues for reform.

This process of extended consultations gave rise to a report of great relevance, presented to HM the King on May 25, 2021, setting the stages of a new national strategy towards the expected objectives, defining the strategic choices, and evoking the follow-up mechanisms and mobilization of the actors concerned and of all Moroccan citizens.

Among the objectives of this new development model are the doubling of gross domestic product per capita by 2035, mastery of basic learning at the end of the primary cycle by more than 90% of students, an increase in the number of doctors per inhabitant to reach WHO standards, a 20% reduction in the share of informal employment, an increase in the participation rate of women to 45%, compared to 22% in 2019, a satisfaction rate of citizens towards the administration and public services by more than 80%.

- Morocco recently organized elections which resulted in the appointment of a new Government, tell us about this electoral deadline.

- As a reminder, in 2011, King Mohammed VI announced a series of constitutional reforms, approved by referendum and which resulted in a new Constitution, which allowed the separation of powers, the independence of the judiciary, as well as the strengthening of the of Parliament, as well as the powers of the Head of Government, appointed from among the members of the political party which ranks first in legislative elections.

On September 8, 2021, Morocco experienced three successful elections (legislative, regional and municipal). The participation rate in this ballot, which took place in the midst of the health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, was the highest in the southern provinces compared to other regions of the Kingdom, knowing that at the national level it was 50.18%. This rate reached 66.94 in Laâyoune-Sakia El Hamra, 63.76% in Guelmimm-Oued Noun and 58.30% in Dakhla-Oued Eddahab, which reinforces the feeling of belonging of the populations of the territories of the Moroccan Sahara to their country of origin, the Kingdom of Morocco.

King Mohammed VI appointed, on October 7, 2021, the new Government comprising twenty-four ministers including seven women (only four in the previous one), led by the Party Leader who won the elections.

By celebrating, as usual, this historic Anniversary with so much fervor, Moroccans renew their well-established conviction for the preservation of the territorial integrity of their country, of their unwavering attachment to a model of democratic state endowed with representative institutions, reflecting its cultural diversity in unity and their constantly renewed commitment to meet the challenges of both development, globalization and modernization.

Photo: "Diplomatic Spectrum"