French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Algeria on Thursday for a three-day visit. This visit aims to “rebuild” bilateral relations. It marks, for Algiers, the recognition of its strategic importance in the region.
The Head of State’s plane, accompanied by a delegation of more than 90 people, landed around 3:30 pm (4:30 pm Swiss time). He was greeted as he stepped off the plane by his colleague, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, with military honours. The two men embraced before heading to a marquee to hear the national anthems played by a military band.
The two leaders will then head to the Monument des Martyrs, a high place in Algerian memory of the war of independence (1954-1962) against France. There will be a tête-à-tête at the presidency, a statement to the media, followed by a dinner at the People’s Palace.
The visit coincides with the 60th anniversary of the end of the war and the proclamation of Algeria’s independence in 1962. But the French president said he was above all determined to direct it towards “youth and the future”.
On the Algerian side, Macron’s arrival was hailed as marking the desire to “promote a new vision based on equal treatment and a balance of interests”, according to the official APS agency.
Macron’s choice to make this trip at the beginning of his second five-year term also corresponds, according to Algiers, to “a recognition of Algeria’s central role in the region” and a “return in force of Algerian diplomacy on the international stage”. .
“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”, analyzes Algerian political scientist Mansour Kedidir.
Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Algeria, Africa’s biggest gas producer and one of the top ten in the world, has been in high demand by Europeans eager to reduce their dependence on Russian gas.
Algerian gas “is not really the object of the visit” and there will be “no announcements of major contracts or major negotiations”, assures the Eliseu. That’s even though the head of energy giant Engie, Catherine MacGregor, is part of the delegation.
The two presidents will also discuss the situation in Mali, from which the French army has just withdrawn, and the growing Russian influence in Africa. Algeria plays a central role in the region due to its thousands of kilometers of borders with Mali, Niger and Libya. It is also close to Russia, its main weapons supplier.
This is the second time that Emmanuel Macron has visited Algeria as president, after a first visit in December 2017. Relations between the two countries then looked promising with a young French president, born after 1962 and freed from the weight of history, who had qualified French colonization as a “crime against humanity”.
But they quickly came to an end, overtaken by memories that remain difficult to reconcile after 132 years of colonization, a bloody war and the departure of a million French people from Algeria in 1962.
Still a candidate for the presidency, Macron certainly qualified colonization as a “crime against humanity” and, during his first five-year term, he multiplied the memorial gestures. But the apologies that Algiers had hoped for colonization never arrived, thwarting the hand held out in memory of the French president and adding to the misunderstandings.
In October 2021, comments by Emmanuel Macron accusing the Algerian “political-military system” of surfing on “memorial rent” and his questions about the existence of an Algerian nation before colonization ended up consummating the rupture. Since then, the Elysée’s tenant has made peace and the two presidents have decided to resume the partnership between the two countries.
“New cooperation mode”
The delicate issue of visas granted by France will also be at the center of discussions, with Emmanuel Macron having decided in 2021 to halve them in the face of Algiers’ reluctance to readmit undesirable citizens to France. During his visit, Macron will also meet young Algerian entrepreneurs on Friday.
Kamel Moula, industrialist at the head of the Council for Economic Renewal of Algeria, told the TSA website that he expects “a new mode of cooperation” between France and Algeria, based on “investment and co-production” for “a winning – winning partnership”. .
The same expectations on the streets of Algiers. “They say to Macron ‘welcome to Algeria, if the interests are common, we agree, if they are only on the (French) side then it is not'”, adds Remdhan Elbaz, 60, retired.
This article was automatically published. Sources: ats/afp