Diplomatic tension between France and Algeria reaches ahead on Sunday, with the closure of Algerian airspace to French military planes, just one day after the recall of Algeria’s ambassador to Paris. But why are there such tensions between two countries that will soon mark the 60th anniversary of Algeria’s independence and the end of the Algerian war?
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Algerian authorities are concerned about Emmanuel Macron’s “unchallenged remarks,” which were transcribed in a Saturday article by Le Monde. The newspaper reports on a meeting two days earlier between the President of the Republic and twenty young descendants of Algerian War protagonists (1954-1962).
According to the evening daily, Algeria was built on a “memorial rent” after its independence in 1962, which was maintained by the “politico-military system.” Still, in remarks quoted by Le Monde, he criticized Algiers for writing “an official history completely rewritten” that “is not based on truths” but on “a speech based on a hatred of France.”
Emmanuel Macron also mentioned the sharp reduction in visas for Algerians, Moroccans, and Tunisians, which Paris decided a few days earlier, on Tuesday, earning the French ambassador to Algeria a summons for “protest” from Algerian authorities.
This visa reduction is not aimed at students or business people, but at “people in the ruling community,” according to the President of the Republic, as quoted by the newspaper.
Another source of annoyance for Algiers, according to local media, is when the head of state refers to President Abdelmadjid Tebboune as “caught in a very harsh system,” then jokes about how Algeria presents the French as “the only colonizers,” ignoring Ottoman dominance between the 16th and 18th centuries.
This is not the first serious crisis between the two countries, it was about fifteen years ago, precisely on February 23, 2005, the French Parliament had passed legislation acknowledging “the positive role of colonization.”
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Despite its subsequent repeal, this text resulted in the cancellation of a treaty of friendship that President Jacques Chirac and his Algerian counterpart Abdelaziz Bouteflika had hoped to sign.
More recently, bilateral relations have reached new lows: in May 2020, the Algerian ambassador in Paris, Salah Lebdioui, was recalled following the broadcast of a documentary on the Algerian protests by two French public television channels.