Algeria-France: on the verge of a rupture?

Algeria-France: on the verge of a rupture?

Relations between the two countries are strained over visas and comments made by the French president.

Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said on Sunday that the return of his country’s ambassador to France would be dependent on “full respect” for Algeria.

Speaking to members of the country’s national press, Tebboune said: “We forget that it (Algeria) was once a French colony… History should not be falsified.”

In reference to French colonial past, Tebboune said: “We can’t act like nothing happened.”

Why are relations strained?

Last weekend, diplomatic relations between the two sides took a downward turn when Algiers recalled its diplomat from Paris.

Algeria also closed its airspace to French military aircraft involved in operations against Islamist militants in the Sahel region.

That was in response to comments French President Emmanuel Macron had made to descendants of the 1954-1962 Algerian War of Independence.

Both French and Algerian media reported that Macron had said Algeria’s “politico-military system” had given another version of history premised on “a hatred for France.”

Paris had also slashed the number of visas issued to Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, a move which further fuelled tensions between the two countries.

Macron’s hope for talks

The office of the Algerian presidency said that there had been no denial that the comments had been made and considered them to be interference in Algerian affairs.

Last week, Macron had expressed hope for dialogue, saying it was “better to talk and make progress,” while describing a “truly cordial” relationship with Tebboune.

Macron has during his presidency made attempts to address France’s colonial legacy.

In September, Macron asked for forgiveness from families of Algerians who fought alongside French forces and were then abandoned after the country’s war for independence.

In 2020, Macron tasked a historian to delve into France’s colonial legacy in Algeria, but it has been criticized for being a one-sided narrative. The report compiled by historian Benjamin Stora also made no recommendation for an apology or for reparations to be paid.

Source: kb/sri (AFP, Reuters)

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