Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is conferred an Honorary Doctorate from the Mohammed V University

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is conferred an Honorary Doctorate from the Mohammed V University

Mohammed V University is one of Morocco’s biggest higher education  establishments. It was established in 1957 by King Mohammed V soon after the kingdom became independent.

The university comprises five research institutes, two higher schools, three technical schools and eight departments, located in Rabat and across Morocco. The faculty of more than 2,500 teach over 55,000 students. The university trains professionals in humanities, science, the law, economics, social sciences, industrial production and medicine. It also has over 50 specialised clubs and associations. Mohammed V University is a member of the Averroes student exchange programme, a network that includes 20 European and Maghreb universities and has 74 associated members. The University has signed more than 150 bilateral exchange agreements with various foreign schools, including in Russia.

Dmitry Medvedev’s remarks during the ceremony:

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, friends, colleagues,

First of all, I would like to thank you for inviting me to speak at Mohammed V University, one of your country’s leading education establishments, actually, the main education establishment in your country and in the Arab world, which is known far beyond Morocco and which trains top-quality specialists in a variety of fields. For me, this is a good opportunity to discuss the prospects for cooperation as we see them. Although, I have to hand it to the President, after his brilliant speech, I’m not sure what I can add. It was a great speech, which contained a historical overview of Russian-Moroccan relations and an assessment of our current cooperation and prospects.

Thank you very much for such a detailed description of what we are doing.

But, I would like to focus on education issues, since this is probably what matters most at a meeting in a university. However, I would like to spend a moment to say a few words about our relations in general.

Morocco is our true and tried partner. Our relations have been developing for more than two centuries and are taking on new implementation forms. Of course, there is an economic component underlying these relations. The visit of our delegation is largely focusing on the promotion of the economic aspect of our cooperation. Russia has traditionally contributed to providing energy resources to Morocco. In turn, your country, engages in active trade with our state. Admittedly, in recent years, thanks to the decisions made at the top level, as well as thanks to the visit of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, our relations have reached a whole new level. As of the onset of 2002, these ties have been referred to as strategic partnership. This was not the case in earlier times, when Russia was an empire, nor during the Soviet era, although it was then that the important parts of our cooperation were put in place. Now we have become strategic partners. I believe that this is not accidental.

It's not just that the trade and economic cooperation between our countries is expanding. We are looking for new investment projects at the same time doing our best to expand our trade. The most important thing is that  this cooperation has acquired a new quality. This new quality is about a new humanitarian dimension, which includes educational projects, which, by the way, affect all spheres of life be it agriculture and agrarian technology or high technology in the narrow sense of the word. We plan on continuing this. Clearly, the current dynamics are good, however, this is not quite what we would like to see. I’m absolutely confident that our countries together with  our economies and, most important of all, the people who live in the Russian Federation and the Kingdom of Morocco, can take these relations to a whole new level, and not only strengthen trade and economic ties, but give an impetus to developing cooperation across all spheres. As I mentioned earlier on, our reserves for the promotion of this cooperation are far from being exhausted.

Perhaps, education is one of the most important areas. It was absolutely correctly noted that during Soviet times , when my country had  somewhat different borders and had a different name, the foundations for cooperation in the field of education were laid. This is fantastic that a significant part of the graduates of the Soviet and afterwards Russian universities continue to live and work in Morocco as well as make their contribution to our relations. This is why cooperation in the field of education must be expanded drastically.  I am confident that contacts − and government decisions, by the way − should be no less intense than anything that we are doing to promote our trade and economic ties. All the more so, since the economy of the future is truly an economy based on innovations. It may be a common platitude, but it’s true that in today’s world a person must engage in life-long learning, no matter what he or she may be doing for a living. It is important that thousands of Moroccans were trained at Russian universities, and their skills and expertise now allow them to take an active part in the life of their country. We highly appreciate this and believe that this is an extremely valuable investment in the future of our relations.

It is also important that our universities are developing partner ties with each other. All those who wish to study the Russian language as well as culture have free access not only to the books and departments concerned, but also to new forms of education such as a special Russian language website on education. The role of distance or online education is ever growing in the modern world. According to available data, Moroccans are actively taking advantage of this opportunity. At any rate, the number of visitors to this website is growing rapidly. However, this does not mean that we should learn about each other only from a distance, that is, online. On the contrary, the more direct contacts we have, the better. We need to promote cooperation in education not only to address current tasks, even though they are very important and we must be pragmatic in this sense. This cooperation is also important for our future because it offers a good opportunity for our young people to understand one another.

The world’s fabric is knitted out of problems. You feel this especially so in the Maghreb, in North Africa as well as in the Middle East. There are really many complexities and conflicts here. In this context, education, communications and the adoption of a common cultural code are the best methods of building up mutual understanding. This is why we believe in the promotion of cultural projects. When young people start working after receiving their diplomas, these projects will give them an opportunity to launch joint businesses. Nothing unites people better than a joint business or joint projects. Overall, it is always easier to invent something new when one is doing it together. This may change our economies and the global economy in the future. We are completely open for this kind of dialogue.

We have always been open to it, from the time diplomatic relations were first established to the present. All the more so since our economy is not closed, it is also developing. Just like the economy of Morocco, it is going through a period of transformation. Not without problems, but we are adapting the structure of our economy to new economic realities and the challenges of the modern world which are many. The global economy is constantly being shaken by crises, and we have to adapt to new economic conditions. By the way, it's much easier to do so together.

During a recent Government meeting, we approved a new priority of improving the export potential of our educational institutions. To reiterate, this part of life, I believe, is no less important for all of us – Russia and Morocco alike, and for the vast majority of other countries – than traditional economic development. The key goal of such a project is to increase the appeal of our educational institutions, our universities, for foreign students, improve the conditions of their stay in our country during their studies, and, ultimately, increase awareness of the Russian education brand.

Objectively, Russia has always boasted a good tradition of university education, and secondary education has always been very good as well. However, we can’t rest on our laurels forever, we can’t assume that we have a good foundation in education and therefore we remain an attractive and interesting partner. The world is evolving, and new strong universities are emerging. By the way, your university is one of them. Indeed, it’s based on traditions that have existed in your country for many centuries now, but it is also a completely modern, new and classy university that trains high-quality specialists.

Competition is part of the world of education, too. This is not bad, because competition leads to developing the best practices, the best educational programmes, and exciting courses. We will also engage in this and work to develop full-time forms of education. We invite everyone who is interested in this kind of education to come to our country. These programmes are underway. My colleague just mentioned the number of students from the Kingdom of Morocco who are studying in our country. We, of course, will be developing both online courses and new tourism opportunities. The regulatory framework for accommodating foreign students will be improved. I am confident that by focusing on this priority our educational institutions and universities will be able to step up their cooperation. We will focus on this specifically. I invite everyone who is interested to join this work.

To reiterate, it is not just about getting students aboard, although this in itself is important, but also putting together joint projects, forming new curricula which would be of interest for the student community, professors, and researchers from our countries and, of course, the administrators, professors, and students of your esteemed university.

I’m very grateful for the invitation to speak within the walls of your beautiful university. I want to thank the distinguished President of the university, Mr Saaid Amzazi, for his hospitality. Of course, I wish all the students and the professors new interesting research, new projects, and scientific discoveries, including − and I very much count on it − in a collaborative effort with Russian universities.