Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am glad to address such a distinguished audience at this conference today.

On behalf of the UK Government I would like to thank the Royal United Services Institute for their hospitality and hard work in arranging this meeting. It comes at an important time as we approach the Tenth Anniversary Summit of Euromed in Barcelona in November.

The UK and Morocco have enjoyed a long history of good relations.

Today our trade links are multiple. Indeed bilateral trade has tripled over the past 10 years. In 2004 our trade with Morocco was worth over £860m The UK is now one of the top six investors in Morocco.

Every year more and more British people visit Morocco. The variety and intensity of our bilateral contacts are developing faster than ever before.

I found my own visit to Morocco in July immensely useful and enjoyable.

Our new Ambassador to Morocco, Charles Gray, will – I have no doubt – continue the important work of his predecessors to develop the UK’s growing ties with Morocco. Similarly His Excellency Mohammed Belmahi, Ambassador of His Majesty the King of Morocco to the UK, continues to work effectively to further improve our bilaterally relations.

Today our interests go well beyond bilateral commercial and cultural ties. The challenges we face in today’s increasingly global world are common to every country – terrorism, organised crime, drugs, people trafficking.

Morocco, like Britain, has been the target of vicious terrorist attacks. In July I visited Casablanca and laid a wreath to commemorate victims of the 2003 bombings. We have seen that Morocco, like Britain, is determined that these barbarous acts by a tiny minority of wicked individuals must not undermine our way of life. We shall not let them do so.

The bombings in London on 7 July served to unite, not divide, the city. As it became clear that the victims came from no fewer than 19 different countries, and included Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Hindus and Jews, it also became clear that this was not a Muslim attack against the West so much as a fanatical attack against the general public of a multicultural, and integrated city, against openness and democracy, against tolerance and diversity.

Here in London we are very proud of the way in which we are working to minimise the tensions, which can emerge in such a diverse society. The British government and the British public are determined that the bombings should not exacerbate tensions between London’s many cultures, religions and races. And included in that British public are the 1.6 million Muslims who live in Britain today.

Here in the UK we are doing our utmost to make it clear that the extremism of this small minority must not be allowed to damage the name of Islam or the Muslim peoples world-wide. As the Prime Minister said recently: ’Fanaticism is not a state of religion but a state of mind’.

We know that the vast majority of Muslims in Britain, and around the globe, are moderate and peace loving. And the use of violence is not unique to those who claim Islam, or rather a distorted version of Islam, as their faith. Those who carry out terrorist acts represent neither their communities nor their religion.

These are not just my own words but, above all, those of the British Muslim community who have made it very clear recently that they disown these individuals. They have also recognised that it is time to marginalise the extremists; to compete in the ideological battle; to exploit the global media as Al Qa’ida and others do; to take the intellectual and communications fight to the terrorists. The fanatics have used the modern media as an extension of their terrorism. We must use it as part of our counter terrorism.

How do we begin to address this threat? How can the UK and Morocco work together to combat the danger posed by international terrorism? One way would be to improve information sharing and in offering training assistance and capacity building where it is needed. But there are other things we can discuss.
We already run successful programmes with our Moroccan partners. But we still can do more.
We need to continue to offer protection to potential targets from terrorist attack, and we need continue to prepare for the consequences of an attack so as to minimise its impact.
There are other areas, including the movement of funds (money laundering) and the movement of people where we need to intensify our existing close co-operation to ensure that potential terrorists cannot operate with impunity. Underpinning our own counter terrorist strategy is a commitment to ensure that our policies are entirely consistent with our international human rights obligations. Hence the consistent application in our legislation of the principal of judicial review.

There is no place for human rights abuse in the fight against terrorism.

But one thing that is clear to me, Is that we need not only to tackle terrorism in its raw form, but also address the causes of terrorism and try to understand what leads young people to take such utterly destructive action.
It is crucial that we all work together to keep our young people from those who facilitate their recruitment to violence. We must learn what is driving them to sympathise with such radical views. Why young men and women would give up their own lives in the process of taking others. As His Majesty King Mohammed puts it ’Any exploitation of social misery aiming at political ends, at nurturing extremist inclinations... cannot be morally accepted.’ So we need to tackle poverty and social exclusion. Which is why we are keen to expand our dialogue with Morocco to questions of economic and social reform.

I commend the progress Morocco is making on the promotion and protection of human rights.

The new Family Code will better protect women’s rights. We welcome signs of an increasingly active civil society, and hope that Morocco will further liberalise its media.

Morocco’s Equity and Reconciliation Commission, set up in 2004, is working to help heal the wounds of the past.

We recognise there are still challenges ahead, but Morocco’s commitment to reform and its determination to work with the EU and G8 are an example for the whole South Mediterranean region.

Morocco is fast becoming a leader in broadening the perspectives of its people, in embracing human rights, in fighting poverty and in tackling inequality between genders. Morocco’s Parliament has 35 female MPs, a considerable advance and example to the region. The UK welcomes and fully supports Morocco’s commitment to wider political representation.

There are, however, still challenges that need to be faced: the question of Western Sahara is a major obstacle to regional stability, and a drain on Morocco’s economy. A range of humanitarian issues related to the situation in Western Sahara cause concern. We believe that progress on these issues would help improve the atmosphere for the political process.

Peaceful resolution of the Western Sahara question, and consequently of the problems it creates for the people of the region as a whole, would allow for a higher level of regional co-operation including on migration, economic development, and counter terrorism.

The UK fully supports the United Nations Secretary General’s attempts to find a lasting and mutually acceptable solution to the Western Sahara question, and encourages all parties to engage with the UN process.

With 20% of Moroccans living in poverty, we can well understand Morocco’s determination to push forward with its own programmes of economic reform.

We welcome King Mohammed’s National Initiative for Human Development, which provides a clear vision and strategy. It prioritises the most underdeveloped areas of the country, and is helping to provide much needed basic services such as clean water and schools. We want to encourage more projects like this and more programmes for reform and development.

More generally. between 2001 and 2004 Morocco achieved an economic growth rate of 4.6%. This is welcome. But as the IMF notes, an even higher rate, of about 6%, is needed to ensure sufficient job creation. Ninety thousand jobs in Morocco’s textiles industry are under threat from Chinese competition. Growth is happening, but not fast enough.

How can we promote it?

The economic transformation of Morocco will be a benefit to the whole region.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is in the interests of the UK nationally and EU collectively that Morocco is a strong and stable partner. We are glad that Morocco has shown such commitment to the Barcelona Process and we have been working hard to strengthen further EU/Moroccan ties under our EU Presidency.

EuroMed’s Tenth Anniversary Summit in Barcelona in November will be a critical opportunity to help the EU’s Mediterranean Partners to meet the challenges of the 21st Century. We believe that the Barcelona Process needs to modernise, move towards a more results orientated process, with much more focus on reform. In other words, it needs to address the concerns of the peoples of both sides of the Mediterranean.

Our aim is to revitalise the Barcelona Process. It needs to start delivering essential economic, educational, governance and migration reforms in the Mediterranean basin. It needs to push forward our broader counter-terrorism agenda. So we want the leaders gathered in Barcelona to endorse an outcome-oriented Five Years Work Plan with concrete medium term targets.

Frances Guy, Head of the Foreign Office’s Engaging with the Islamic World Group, will later explore in greater detail the specific deliverables we will be working to achieve at the Barcelona summit.

Morocco was one of the first countries to agree a European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan with the EU in December 2004. The ENP aims to create enhanced relationships with the EU’s Southern and Eastern Neighbours. These should be based on shared values and common interests and building on existing instruments and frameworks. The ENP sets out the overall standards we, the EU, expect from the countries on our borders - the areas we want to work with them in - and what is on offer from the EU in return. The Action Plans promote shared values such as the rule of law, democracy and human rights.

I hope that this Conference will have the opportunity to discuss how the European Neighbourhood Policy is working for Morocco; and how best to take it forward. We also look forward to holding an EU-Morocco Enhanced Political Dialogue Meeting and an EU-Morocco Association Council in November to assess the progress made under the European Neighbourhood Policy.

Through the UK’s Global Opportunities Fund we are able to support the aims and objectives of the European Neighbourhood Policy by financing projects to help modernise judicial and administrative structures and develop education, independent media and the financial sector in line with a country’s own modernisation strategy. This is serious British bilateral programme in support of a broader initiative involving all our partners.

We know, however, that without peace we will not achieve the region of stability and prosperity that we all seek. During our EU Presidency, we want the EU to continue play, through the Quartet, a significant and constructive role in promoting peace, stability and reform in the region, working closely with other international partners.

And so to conclude.

The UK and Morocco already enjoy a warm partnership. We remain fully committed to expanding that partnership and to helping Morocco develop its ties with the EU. Only by working together as bilateral and regional partners can we ensure stability and prosperity for both of us.

That is in all our interests.

Thank you.