How to explain the new tensions between France and Algeria?

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Relations between France and Algeria are experiencing a new episode of tension after Emmanuel Macron’s remarks on Algerian history deemed “irresponsible” by Algiers. Back to the reasons for this new crisis.

It is a new episode of tensions which animates relations between France and Algeria. After the recall of its ambassador Mohamed Antar-Daoud for consultation in Paris justified by “a” particularly inadmissible situation generated by (of) irresponsible remarks “of Emmanuel Macron, Algiers announced Sunday to close its airspace to French military planes.

To explain these tensions between the two countries which will soon commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of the Algerian war and its independence, we must be interested in the “unchallenged remarks” of Emmanuel Macron reported by Le Monde. During a meeting with twenty young descendants of protagonists of the Algerian War, the French head of state declared that Algeria was built after its independence in 1962 on “a memorial rent”, maintained by “the politico-military system”. He also criticized “an official history completely rewritten” by Algiers which “is not based on truths” but on “a speech which is based on a hatred of France”.

Among the other reasons for Algeria’s irritation: the reduction in visas granted to Algerians announced this week by the French president, which earned the recall of the Algerian ambassador to Paris, and according to local media, his way to describe President Abdelmadjid Tebboune as “caught in a very harsh system” and to speak of the French as “the only colonizers”, forgetting the Ottoman domination between the 16th and 18th centuries.

However, the question of memory is sensitive on the Algerian side “because it touches the history, soul and identity of the Algerian people,” Hassen Kacimi, a specialist in migration issues, told AFP. While the two countries had agreed in May 2020 to jointly carry out a work of memory with a view to “reconciliation”, the report submitted in January 2021 in this context by Benjamin Stora was rejected by Algeria who accused him not to be “objective” and criticized the lack of “official recognition by France of war crimes and against humanity perpetrated during the 130 years of the occupation of Algeria”.

On Saturday, the Algerian presidency therefore finally considered that the position taken by Emmanuel Macron “runs counter to the principles that should govern a possible Algerian-French cooperation in terms of memory (and) has the incorrigible failure to tend towards the promotion of a version apologetics of colonialism. “

Franco-Algerian relations have already seen other episodes of tension in recent years. In April 2021, Prime Minister Jean Castex canceled at the last moment a visit, at the request of Algiers, dissatisfied, according to sources informed by AFP, with a delegation too small for their liking. The year before, in May 2020, the Algerian ambassador in Paris had also been recalled after the broadcast of a documentary by two French public channels on the pro-democracy demonstrations (Hirak) in Algeria.

And one of the major crises that marked the relationship between the two countries dates back to February 23, 2005, when the French Parliament adopted a law recognizing “the positive role of colonization”. A law subsequently repealed but which had caused the cancellation of a Treaty of friendship strongly desired by President Jacques Chirac and his Algerian counterpart Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

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