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Paris (AFP) – A visit to rekindle relations and, at least, to try to clear up disagreements: President Emmanuel Macron will go on an official visit to Algeria next week.
The trip, from Thursday August 25 to Saturday August 27 to Algiers then Oran, follows the first visit of twelve hours in December 2017 at the start of his first five-year term.
The French president and his Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune discussed this visit in a telephone conversation on Saturday. Emmanuel Macron especially offered his condolences to his counterpart after the massive fires that ravaged northern Algeria on Wednesday and Thursday, killing 37 people, according to an official report. Those fires were nearly all extinguished by Saturday, firefighters said.
“The Head of State informed his counterpart of the availability of France to provide Algeria with land and air resources to deal with it,” said the Elysee.
This trip comes at the end of a sequence full of symbols on the 60th anniversary of the Evian Accords (March 18, 1962), which ended more than seven years of war between the Algerian rebels and the the French army, and the independence of Algeria (July 5, 1962) after 132 years of French colonization.
“By choosing Algiers as the destination to start his term, President Macron has shown that Algeria is back on the regional and international scene,” said Hasni Abidi, director of the Center for Studies and Research on the World. Arab and Mediterranean in Geneva. “Algeria will not ignore a good agreement in Paris either,” he believes, pointing out the particular importance of the Western Sahara issue in the eyes of Algerians in front of their Moroccan neighbors.
The former French ambassador to Algeria, Xavier Driencourt, on the other hand, did not see “the point of such a visit at the moment”. “There has been no recent change in relations with Algeria,” he said. “There must be movements from Algiers in a certain number of our requests, which are consular passes, economic activities,” he said.
Paris and Algiers initially hoped to turn the page on a series of disagreements and tensions. The relationship with the new French president, the first of the Fifth Republic born after the Algerian War, was nevertheless announced under the best supervision.
During a trip to Algiers in February 2017, Emmanuel Macron, a former candidate for the Élysée, described colonization as a “crime against humanity”, sparking hopes of repentance in Algeria as well as strong criticism from right and the extreme right of France.
Back in Algiers on December 7, 2017, a few months after his election, he called not to remain “hostages” of the past and to establish “more developed relations” between the two countries.
Since then he has increased the commemoration movements, which acknowledge the responsibility of the French army in the death of the mathematician Maurice Audin or the nationalist lawyer Ali Boumendjel, who has not yet apologized for the French colonization.
Franco-Algerian relations experienced a cold snap when in September 2021, according to comments reported in the press, he criticized the Algerian “political-military” system for maintaining a “memorial rent” around the war of independence and thinking about the existence of an Algerian nation before colonization.
Algeria immediately recalled its ambassador to Paris for three months. Emmanuel Macron finally had to express his “regret” in the face of the controversy created, to prevent the crisis.
Relations have gradually warmed since then. At the end of April, the Algerian president congratulated his counterpart on his re-election and invited him to visit Algeria. In June, the two leaders expressed their desire to “deepen” the relationship between the two countries.
And in a letter to President Tebboune for the 60th anniversary of the independence of Algeria, Emmanuel Macron emphasized his desire to “continue his process of recognizing the truth and restoring the memories of Algerians and French people”.
© 2022 AFP