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Morocco

(last updated: 24.03.2016)


Morocco recognised the Republic of Estonia on 24 September 1991. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established on 22 June 1992.

Morocco is represented in Estonia by its embassy in Helsinki. The first Moroccan ambassador to Estonia was Abdelmalek Jeddaoui (1998-2000). The current ambassador, Mohammed Ariad, presented his credentials to the President of the Republic on 30 May 2015.

Estonia does not have an embassy in Morocco. The first ambassador to Morocco was Andres Tomasberg (2001-2005), who resided in Madrid. The current Estonian ambassador to Morocco, Andres Rundu resides in Lisbon. Estonia also has an honorary consulate in Casablanca. The honorary consul is Vice President of the Moroccan Employers Federation, Ali Benkirane.

Morocco has named real estate businessman, Margus Reinsalu, as its honorary consul in Estonia.

Friendship groups have been formed in the parliaments of both countries. The Estonia-Morocco parliamentary group in the Riigikogu is chaired by Andre Sepp. A friendship group was formed in the Maroccan parliament in November of 2013 and is chaired by Abdelkader Yahi, who is the chairman of the biggest coalition party PJD (Justice and Development Party).

Visits

February 1992 - Estonia was visited by Maati Jorio, director of the European and American Department, and Ahmed El Ouardi, director of the Department of Economic Co-operation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Morocco

December 1993 - Toomas Sildmäe, Estonia’s Minister of Economy, visited Morocco

February 2003 - Estonia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Kristiina Ojuland visited Morocco and opened an Honorary Consulate in Casablanca. Meetings with Foreign Minister Mohamed Benaissa, Minister for Industry, Trade and Telecommunications Rachad Talbi El Alami, Foreign Trade Minister Mustapha Mechahouri and Minister of Tourism Adil Douiri.

November 2005 - In the framework of the Barcelona Summit, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet met with Moroccan Foreign Minister Mohamed Benaissa.

July 2006 - Foreign Minister Urmas Paet in Rabat, Morocco at the Ministerial Euro-African Conference on Migration and Development

February 2007 - Political consultations between the Estonian and Moroccan foreign ministries in Tallinn. Morocco was represented by Ambassador Youssef Amrani, the Estonian delegation was headed by Simmu Tiik. Bilateral relations and co-operation, also international issues and the EU-Mediterranean co-operation program were discussed.

December 2007 – Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and Moroccan Prime Minister Abbas el-Fass met within the framework of the EU-Africa summit in Lisbon

February 2009 – Prime Minister Andrus Ansip met with his Moroccan colleague Abbas el-Fass within the framework of the Copenhagen Climate Conference

September 2009 – Foreign Minister Urmas Paet met with Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation Taieb Fassi-Fihr within the framework of the UN General Assembly in New York; they signed the agreement for the protection of investments

April 2010 – Prime Minister Andrus Ansip was in Morocco for an official visit together with a business delegation. The visit was focused on economic co-operation. The Estonian prime minister met with Moroccan Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi, Minister of Energy and the Environment Amina Benkhadra, Minister of Industry Ahmed Chami, and Minister of Foreign Trade Abdellatif Maazouzi. An Estonia-Morocco business seminar was also held.

November 2010 – Riigikogu Chairman Ene Ergma was in Morocco for an official visit, during which she met with Speaker of the House of Representatives Abdelwahad Radi, Vice President of the Assembly of Counsellors Mohammed Fawzi Benallau, Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi, and Secretary of State to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation Latifa Akharbach. Topics discussed at the meetings were Estonia-Morocco bilateral co-operation and communication on the European Union level.

January 2015 – Minister Delegate to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco Mbarka Bouaida on a visit to Estonia.

Political consultations

The protocol on submitting mechanisms for political consultations between the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Estonia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation of the Kingdom of Morocco came into force 5 February 2003.

On 12 December 2007 the first political consultations between the foreign ministries were held in Tallinn (delegation led by director general of the bilateral relations department of the Moroccan Foreign Ministry Youssef Amrani).

On 25 July 2008 the second consultations took place, again in Tallinn (delegation led by State Secretary to the Moroccan Foreign Ministry Latifa Akherbach).

On 8 June 2012 the third political consultations between the foreign ministries were held in Morocco (delegations led by director general of the bilateral relations department of the Moroccan Foreign Ministry Nabil Adghoghi and Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Väino Reinart).

Agreements

Agreement for the mutual facilitation and protection of investments between the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco, signed 25 September 2009.

As of 1 May 2009 the bearers of Moroccan diplomatic service or special passports can spend 90 days in Estonia in the space of one year without a visa.

In the framework of the meeting with the minister of energy that took place during Prime Minister Andrus Ansip’s visit to Morocco in 2010, chairman of the board of Eesti Energia Sandor Liive and Minister of Energy Benkhadra signed a memorandum of mutual understanding that gives Eesti Energia the right to start studying Morocco’s oil shale resources.

Morocco and Estonia signed a double taxation agreement on September 25, 2013.

Economic relations

Estonia-Morocco trade 2007-2015 (thousands of EUR)

Year Exports Import Turnover Balance
2007 3 906 1 195 5 101 2 711
2008 2 303 188 2 491 2 115
2009 1 824 119 1 943 1 705
2010 1 622 179 1 801 1 442
2011 2 546 451 2 997 2 095
2012 30 525 1889 32 414 28 636
2013 2337 2228 4265 110
2014 16 655 6343 17 289 16 021
2015 14 910 295 15 205 14 615

Source: Statistical Office of Estonia

As of 2015, Morocco is in 51st place among Estonia's trade partners. In 2015 total trade turnover to Morocco was 15,2 million euros. Estonia's primary exports to Morocco were mineral fuels and oils, cereals and electrical appliances, followed by paper and pulp paper and machinery and equipment. Primary import articles were furniture and mattrasses, fish and shellfish, and fruits and berries.

Investments

According to Bank of Estonia data, as of 31 December 2015, Estonian businesses in Marocco had investments in the following sectors: real estate activity and undisclosed activity. The total volume of investments has not been published. Moroccoan investors have invested about 20 000 euros in Estonia, mostly in the following sectors: transportation and storage, the accommodation and catering sector, finance and insurance activity, real estate activity and art, entertainment and recreation.

 

Cultural contacts

ESTONIANS IN MOROCCO

In July 1998, the exhibition "An Estonian in Morocco. Leonora Peets 100" was opened in the Estonian Academic Library. Leonora Peets’s nephew Prof. Rein Taagepera helped to compile the exhibit.

Leonora Peets spent 45 years in Morocco as the wife of Estonia's Honorary Consul, Dr. Rudolf Peets. Colourful stories that originated from her direct contacts and experiences with the local customs and beliefs were published before the war in Estonian newspapers and later on in the exile magazine "Triinu". During the first Estonian independence between the World Wars, a small Estonian locality developed in Morocco.

The collection "Under Morocco's Skies", published in Stockholm in 1983 (Tallinn 1997) earned an award from the Hendrik Visnapuu Foundation and was published in English translation also in England and USA.

In July 1999, Tabivere’s amateur theatre group made a trip to Morocco to participate in the international festival of amateur theatres in El-Jadida. Tabivere Theatre staged Ago-Endrik Kerge's play "Per aspera ad astra". An international congress of amateur theatres took place simultaneously with the festival, where, in addition to the Tabivere’s troupe, a ten-member delegation of the Estonian Amateur Theatres' Union participated.

The Worldwide Theatregoers festival is organized bi-annually in various countries around the world.

In 1999, the Moroccan ensemble Al Tarab performed at the ancient music festival in Tartu.

In 2004 and 2007, the Swedish-Moroccan ensemble Kaloush took part in the Viljandi Folk music festival. Moroccan films have been shown at the Dark Nights Film Festival in Tallinn.

In 2007 Veiko Õunpuu’s film “Autumn Ball” won the grand prize at the Film Festival of Marrakesh.

Kätlin Hommik Mrabte’s book “Minu Maroko” (“My Morocco”) was published in 2010.

Moroccan films have been screened during the Black Nights Film Festival in Tallinn.

During her official visit to Morocco in 2010, Ene Ergma unveiled a memorial plaque on the building in Marrakesh where Estonian graphic artist Eduard Viiralt lived and worked from 1938-1939. The artist’s address in Morocco was 61 Rue Ksour. Art historians have noted that the trip to Morocco in 1938 gave Viiralt renewed energy and allowed him to create works that captured the essence of the subject more profoundly. The most famous works inspired by the artist’s time in Morocco are “Young Arab Boy” and “Berber Girl with Camel”.

In 2012 both Elina Reinold and a film called "Seenelkäik" triumphed at the Marrakech International Film Festival. Tartu Student Theatre was awarded with a price in Marrakech Theatre Festival.

History

Estonia’s interest in Morocco was aroused already in the 19th century, when the Pärnu Postimees published Johann Voldemar Jannsen's commentaries on the Spanish-Moroccan war (1859-1860). In 1902, there was an Estonian residing in Morocco assuming the alias A. O, who produced an overview of Morocco’s land, people, its government and problems.

Morocco's favourable geographic location, its natural resources and economic development offered opportunities for developing relations between Estonia and Morocco.

Trade between Estonia and Morocco started in the early 1920s, when Estonia exported timber and cement to Morocco. From 1924-1939, Estonia imported 1,444 tons of goods from Morocco valued at approximately 17,252 EUR. The main import product was sea grass, while other products included coriander for the perfume industry, linseed for producing oil, artificial resin and herbs.

Estonia's exports in those years totalled 973 tons, valued at 13,610 EUR. Products included paper, timber, plywood and a great variety of foodstuffs (butter, cheese, potato, canned food, pork, sausage, sweets). Altogether, 34 articles were exported to Morocco and 31 articles were imported. The aforementioned trade concerned French Morocco. Estonia imported practically nothing from the Spanish possessions in Morocco, nor from the international zone, but it sold 1,888 tons of paper and foodstuffs. Estonian-Moroccan trade relations were based on agreements with France (1922, 1929, 1937) and with Spain (1932, 1935).

Prior to World War II, there was a small Estonian community in Morocco (altogether some 15 people). One of the founders of this community was A. Trelle, an engineer who left Estonia in 1923 and found employment with the French administration in Morocco. At the end of the 1920s, B. Oltov, a businessman from Pärnu, arrived in Casablanca. In 1929, Rudolf Peets, a physician, and his wife Leonora Peets, a writer, settled in Morocco. Also, many renowned Estonian cultural figures, writers and artists visited Morocco: Friedebert Tuglas, Karl Ast, Aino and Oskar Kallas, Alfred Kalm, Eduard Viiralt, Johannes Puhk. Of particular fame are Eduard Viiralt's works completed in Marrakesh: "Berber Girl with a Camel", "A Camel's Head" and the Berber children series.

In 1929 the Estonian consulate was opened in Casablanca.

 

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