Macron expects Algeria to revive bilateral relations

LThe President of France, Emmanuel Macron, began a three-day official visit to Algeria on Thursday, intended to turn the page on the separation and “rebuild” a relationship that remains marked by strain. and in the past.

Accompanied by a large delegation consisting of seven ministers, the Head of State will be welcomed as he disembarks the plane by his counterpart, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, at around 3:00 pm (2:00 GMT).

The two presidents will then go to the Monument des Martyrs, a high place of Algerian memory of the war of independence (1954-1962) facing France, before a tête-à-tête and a dinner at the presidential palace.

The visit coincided with the 60th anniversary of the end of the war and the proclamation of Algerian independence in 1962.

Determined to direct this visit to “the youth and the future”, Mr. Macron will also meet with young Algerian businessmen before going to Oran (west), the country’s second city, famous for the spirit of freedom, embodied by Rai in the 80s.

This is the second time that Mr. Macron has visited Algeria as president, after the first visit in December 2017, just at the beginning of his first five-year term.

The relations between the two countries once seemed promising with a young French president, born after 1962 and free from the weight of history, who described the French colonization as a “crime against people”.

“Political necessity”

But they ended quickly, overtaken by memories that remain difficult to reconcile after 132 years of colonization, a bloody war and the departure of a million French from Algeria in 1962.

Mr. Macron increased the number of commemorative actions, recognizing the responsibility of the French army in the death of mathematician Maurice Audin or nationalist lawyer Ali Boumendjel during the “Battle of Algiers” in 1957.

He denounced the “unpardonable crimes” during the massacre of peaceful Algerian demonstrators in Paris on October 17, 1961.

But the apologies expected in Algiers for the colonization never came, stifling the memory of Mr. Macron’s outstretched hand and increasing misunderstandings and frustrations.

In October 2021, the statements of the French president accusing the Algerian “polico-military system” of surfing the “memorial rent” and the questions of the Head of State about the existence of an Algerian nation before the end of the colonization consumed the rest.

Mr. Macron has since made changes and the two presidents have decided to put the partnership between the two countries back on track.

“Given the risk of instability in the Maghreb, the conflicts in the Sahel and the war in Ukraine, improving relations between France and Algeria is a political necessity,” said Algerian political scientist Mansour Kedidir.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine at the end of February, Algeria, one of the world’s top ten gas producers, has been asked by the Europeans to reduce their dependence on Russian gas.

Algerian gas “is not really the purpose of the visit”, but the Elysée assured.

“he changed”

The two presidents will mainly discuss the situation in Mali, from where the French army has just left, and the growing influence of Russia in Africa.

Algeria plays a central role in the region because of its thousands of kilometers of borders with Mali, Niger and Libya. It is also close to Russia, its main arms supplier.

The question of visas issued by France is also at the center of the discussions, Emmanuel Macron decided in 2021 to cut them in half in front of the reluctance of Algiers to return unwanted nationals to France.

President Macron, on the other hand, will not promote the work of memory, which remains complicated on both sides of the Mediterranean.

In the streets of Algiers, the question of memory made him lose a good part of his early capital of sympathy.

“In 2017, before he became president, he spoke well, he visited, but after he returned to France, he changed, he gave a speech,” complained Othmane Abdellouche, 62, doctor of computer science .

“Macron we say + welcome to Algeria, if the interests are common, we agree, if they are only on the (French) side then it’s no”, added Remdhan Elbaz, 60, a retiree.

08/25/2022 04:09:57 – Algiers (AFP) – © 2022 AFP

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