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EU corruption scandal: Morocco complains of ‘harassment’

In this file photo taken on Dec 16, 2022, Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita holds a press conference with France Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna as she starts an official visit to Rabat, Morocco. (PHOTO / AP)

RABAT – Morocco's ties with the European Union must be protected against harassment at the European parliament, foreign minister Nasser Bourita said on Thursday, following a European probe into graft allegations involving European lawmakers, Qatar and Morocco.

"This partnership faces a continuous judicial harassment and repeated media attacks," Bourita told reporters following talks with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, although Bourita did not directly refer to the cash-for-influence case.

"This partnership faces attacks in European institutions, notably at the parliament," Bourita added.

The European Union maintains a position of "zero tolerance" of corruption and will wait for the results of the decision of a judicial investigation into the case, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said

Belgian authorities have charged four people linked to the European Parliament over allegations that Qatar lavished them with cash and gifts to influence decision-making. Qatar has said it had no involvement in the scandal.

In arrest warrants issued in Italy, there are also allegations of payments from Morocco.

Morocco has not publicly commented on the case.

Morocco's partnership with the EU is "based on neighborliness, values and mutual interests," said Bourita.

READ MORE: EU graft case: Qatar iterates denial of involvement

The graft accusations "are grave", Borrell said after discussing the issue with Bourita and earlier in the day with Prime Minister Aziz Akhnnouch. Borrell gave no details.

The European Union maintains a position of "zero tolerance" of corruption and will wait for the results of the decision of a judicial investigation into the case, he said.

ALSO READ: EU parliament removes Kaili from post over graft charges

Separately, Borrel said the EU and Morocco had a "solid strategic partnership."

He said EU aid to Morocco would increase to 1.6 billion euros during 2021-2027 from 1.4 billion in 2014-2020.