Today we understand more than ever that to build bridges of reconciliation and understanding between people requires an urgent need to build the foundation for cooperation and to establish the spirit of brotherhood and peace among nations. We know also that the dialogue between cultures and cross-linking is a fundamental requirement for progress towards achieving complementarity and common goals and objectives. These convictions are much more obvious, more understandable and more realistic in today’s world, which means that the future of the world depends on communication, openness and mutual action.
In this regard, it is noted that many intellectuals have begun to point out the important role of culture in the analysis of relations between Moroccan and Spanish people, so that cultures play a crucial role in current and future history.
It becomes necessary to seek formulas that shape these relationships in order to enrich the cultural dialogue, get a positive vision that highlights the cultural contributions and boost mutual objective understanding of common historical reality, a common history that Moroccan and Spanish are rightfully proud of. In this context both Moroccans and Spanish still remember the valuable statements that came in King Mohammed’s speech during his , his official visit to Spain in 2000: “Our common heritage still surprised by its humanism, its truth and modernity in the very dawn of the third millennium”.
Indeed, in Morocco there is a strong belief that the two sides of the Strait of Gibraltar have impacted on each other for centuries and therefore cultural exchanges with Spain have been constantly contributing to the enrichment of universal culture.
In this sense, we must remember that the Arab-Muslim presence in Spain was mainly a cultural presence that greatly influenced the progress and diffusion of human thought, also, that presence meant not only a great union that consolidated between Morocco, al-Andalus and Spain, a union that produced, under dialogue and coexistence, the great Andalusian culture.
Al-Andalus has had an intercultural trajectory, though at times outputs have been from violent conflict, it has also many elements and factors of acceptance, tolerance and dialogue between cultures. We can say it was a historical trajectory shaped by centuries of mutual exchange of knowledge and experiences. Relations between Morocco and the kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula were very intense and so, like Córdoba, Seville, Toledo, Granada with Fez, Marrakech, Rabat and Tetouan irradiated many of the values which are then repeated in Spanish-Moroccan relations: osmosis, diffusion and cultural exchanges, international diplomacy …
Throughout the history of al-Andalus, Morocco and Spain made this Mediterranean region a historical area with a huge projection and resonance especially in Europe, North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean. In addition, the Andalusian era reinforced Moroccan and Spanish linguistic similarities and literary forms of art, original architectural designs in short great schools of thought … that, at all times, remind us of the spiritual and intellectual flow that covered both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar.
All of the above, we can say that Morocco is the Arab-Muslim North African country that has had major historical cultural links with Spain. But the historical past should not be a closed chapter in Moroccan and Spanish relations. Its pages, always should remain open, remind us that Morocco and Spain are custodians of a rich cultural heritage of humanity, but at the same time tell us that we must look to the future, a common future in an increasingly globalized world.
In this context, Morocco has chosen in the past two decades to consolidate economic and cultural relations with Spain. If this is the position of Morocco, it is also true that Spain was interested, at least since the beginning of the enlargement of the European Union, to counterbalance the tendency to shift the center of gravity to the north and east of Europe. Strengthening cooperation programs with the Maghreb countries and thus contributing to the stability and security in the Mediterranean.
However, it appears that the relationship between Morocco and Spain are bound to suffer recurrent seizures generated by specific conflicts, related, sometimes to fishing, agriculture, migration or the Sahara and territorial disputes. Fortunately, we can look at the same time, at a strong will and a growing interest of both parties to overcome these seizures and redefine all those topics and concepts.
In a speech he made during his state visit to Morocco King Juan Carlos said in a wise statement: “We need to clean up our mutual visions from false images, preconceived ideas and sometimes simplifications that reduce our crude clichés reciprocal knowledge. Moroccan and Spanish shoudl be econcouraged to study their common history in serene and profound reflection on the personality of each and avatars that have been formed, such emotions and feelings will clarify our historical distortion and not negatively impact our judgment “.
Years later, King Mohammed VI arises again in his speech at the Zarzuela Palace on the occasion of his official visit to Spain in September 2000, the need to: “Promote a better understanding and a mutual understanding to overcome the last taboos and prejudices that are holding back and sometimes weaken the enormous potential of affinities that characterizes our two people.”
Conscious of the need to remedy this situation, Moroccan and Spanish intellectuals decided to boost cultural dialogue between Morocco and Spain, favoring the organization of meetings between representatives of the culture of both countries. In this context, in 1985 was created in Asilah, the Summer University Ibero-Moroccan-American Mutamid Ibn Al-Abbad i in homage to the great king poet of Seville. The honorary president of the university was, at that time, the Crown Prince Sidi Mohamed. This university was established as fundamental mission “to spread and contribute to the development of cultural and scientific relations between Morocco, Spain, Portugal and the peoples of Latin America that, through language, customs, Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese, their native cultures incorporated much the Hispano-Arab relations”.
Morocco and Spain require neighborly relations and not historical mistrust and cultural stereotypes. They also need to recognize the complex reality of their relationship and seek alternative routes to potential conflicts without risking any misunderstanding. This is the real challenge we have to deal with.