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Macron Leaves Algeria without ‘Remorse’ over France’s Colonial History

Macron Leaves Algeria without ‘Remorse’ over France’s Colonial History

Thursday, 7 December, 2017 - 07:30
French President Emmanuel Macron (R) meets with Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia at the Zeralda complex in Zeralda, Algeria, December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Ludovic Marin/Pool

French President Emmanuel Macron said during his visit to Algeria on Wednesday that he came to the country as a friend.


“What brings our two countries together is friendship and a strategic partnership, and we are expected to make important decisions in the future regarding cooperation,” he stated.


Macron held talks with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika at the latter’s home in Zeralda, west of the capital, in an hour-long meeting.


Bouteflika, who has been in power since 1999, has received few foreign leaders since he suffered a stroke in 2013. Journalists were not allowed to cover the meeting, while the Algerian News Agency published a picture of the two presidents sitting with a table in front of them.


In a brief statement following the meeting, Macron said: “We discussed international topics… and ways to resolve the Libyan crisis and the fight against terrorism in the Sahel and Sahara.”


The French president also met with a number of Algerian officials, including Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, with whom he discussed the crises in the Sahel and Libya, which concern both Paris and Algeria.


Macron announced a proposal for a “French investment fund to accompany French companies that have projects in Algeria.”


“I want to develop training areas if we want to launch more small enterprises in Algeria,” he said.


He also talked about the establishment of a “school for the formation of Algerian youth in the field of digitization”, pointing out his intention to deal with “greater flexibility” with visas to France.


Asked by reporters about France’s colonial history, Macron said it was time to stop asking questions from 20 years ago.


“These benchmarks block our bilateral relationship. They don’t interest me because the ambition I have for the relationship between Algeria and France has nothing to do with what was done for decades. It’s a new story that’s being written,” he stressed.


The French president left Algeria on Wednesday night without making a bold move on issues of “memory”, which for Algerians, means frank recognition that France committed crimes during the colonization of the country.


“I know history, but I am not hostage to the past,” he said in a joint interview with local newspapers Al-Khabar and Al-Watan.


“The new relations that I would like to build with Algeria, which I have proposed to the Algerian side, are a true partnership, which we build on the basis of openness, reciprocity and ambition,” he added.

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