French President Emmanuel Macron called this Friday, on the second day of his visit to Algeria, for a “new association” based on youth and the dynamism of the community to revive the “love story” that unites France with Algeria. .
In a speech before a crowd of the French community, Macron announced that he would return to the Algerian capital after visiting Oran, which was not on the visit program, to “greet President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and his ministers and sign a joint declaration.” In a statement, the French presidency spoke of a “renewed, tangible and ambitious partnership” agreement.
Macron added that relations with Algeria “were never a simple story, but it is a story of respect and friendship and we want it to continue to be, and I dare say it is a love story”, referring to an alliance that was achieved ” . amid the current enthusiasm ”after the multiple meetings held this Thursday with Tebboune and his ministers.
He stressed that he would work on a “new partnership for and through youth” that would include the acceptance of an additional 8,000 Algerian students to study in France, bringing the total number of Algerian students accepted annually to 38,000.
He also highlighted his defense of the idea of facilitating the access of some categories of Algerians to French visas in order to contribute to the emergence of a “new Franco-Algerian generation in the economy, the arts, cinema and others”.
In addition to the memory file on the French colonization of Algeria (1830-1962), the issue of visas soured relations between the two countries, after Paris reduced the number of visas granted to Algeria by 50%, alluding to the lack of cooperation from the country in repatriating its citizens expelled from France.
According to Macron, during the meeting with Tebboune, he discussed “this file at length, until midnight” on Thursday, Friday, and “assigned it to our ministers, so it will move forward in the coming weeks and months.” The objective is to combat illegal immigration while facilitating procedures for “double nationals, artists, businessmen and politicians who strengthen bilateral relations.”
After his meeting with young Algerian entrepreneurs, Macron also advocated “structuring innovative projects”, and the public investment bank BPI France will have “an important role in promoting community projects”, whose members speak mainly French, Arabic, English and other languages, as well as young people from both sides of the Mediterranean who represent “opportunity for both countries.
Paris wants to help “train Algerian youth” by establishing a programming school that will be open to non-holders of higher degrees, at the initiative of the owner of the “Iliad” communication group, Xavier Niel. As well as a joint incubator for startups working in the field of digitization.
In the morning, during a visit to the European cemetery of Santa Eugenia, the main cemetery in the Algerian capital, he touched on many issues, especially the sensitive memory archive that caused a serious diplomatic crisis with Algeria last fall.
As reconciliation was established between them on Thursday, Macron and his Algerian counterpart, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, announced the formation of a joint committee of historians “to consider together this historical period” from the beginning of colonialism (1830) to the end of the War. of Independence (1962), “without prohibitions”.
But Macron ruled out any apology, as Algeria demands.
“On the question of memory and the Franco-Algerian question, I often hear calls to choose between pride and repentance,” Macron said, emphasizing: “I want truth and recognition, otherwise we will never move forward.”
He added that “holding a friendly soccer match would allow us to overcome the past.”
After asking Macron before his visit to Algeria “not to condone” the “violation of human rights in the country”, he confirmed that he has discussed the issue with President Tebboune “very freely”.
He said he spoke of “cases that we know about” and called on Tebboune for “transparency and political freedoms and respect for them,” explaining, “I know he responds to (these issues) and adheres to that.” These issues will be resolved with full respect for Algerian sovereignty.”
Regarding Algerian gas and its high demand, Macron denied having come to Algeria to “beg” gas, highlighting its small share in total French energy sources (around 20%).
But in return, he “thanked Algeria” for increasing its supply through the “Transmed” gas pipeline that feeds Italy, pointing out that this allows “improving diversification (sources) in Europe” after it depended heavily on Russian gas. .
Algeria is Africa’s leading gas exporter and supplies Europe with around 11% of its needs.
On international issues, Macron called for “strengthening the partnership with Algeria” to combat the terrorist threat in the Sahel region.
He explained that this includes “avoiding the spread of mercenaries in the region, especially Wagner’s mercenaries”, the Russian private military group active in Mali after the withdrawal of French forces from this country.
Russia is a traditional ally of Algeria and supplies most of its weapons.
In the midst of the tense international situation, Macron and Tebboune chaired an unprecedented meeting of security officials on Friday, according to a statement from the Algerian presidency, which indicated that “this coordination meeting is the first of its kind at this level since the independence”. “
On the Algerian side, the meeting was attended by the Chief of the Army General Staff, Lieutenant General Said Chanegriha, his French counterpart, Thierry Borchard, the Minister of the French Armed Forces, Sebastien Le Cornu, and leaders of the security services Algerians.
After visiting the Great Mosque of Algeria, Macron will head to Oran (west), the country’s second city famous for its openness, where he will meet young artists and athletes on Saturday.
He is also expected to visit the “Disco Maghreb” studio, which gained great fame after taking the title of a musical tape by the artist “DJ Snake”.