French PM in Algeria to embody Franco-Algerian reconciliation amid criticism

The French Prime Minister, Elizabeth Born, arrived in Algeria on Sunday, accompanied by about half of the ministers of her government, in a visit aimed at giving “a new and tangible impetus” to the reconciliation initiated by the two presidents in August .

Upon her arrival at Houari Boumediene airport, Elizabeth Born, who was accompanied by 16 ministers from her government, was received by her Algerian counterpart, Ayman Ben Abderrahmane.

“The time for misunderstandings is over,” the French prime minister told the “All About Algeria” news website.

Bourne undertook her first visit outside France as prime minister since taking office, with symbolic steps related to memory, just like President Emmanuel Macron did during his visit, during which he managed to restore warmth to relations between the two countries. after months of stress.

The French Prime Minister laid a wreath at the “Martyr’s Mausoleum” that commemorates the martyrs of the war of independence (1954-1962) against the French colonizer, in Algiers, before doing the same at the Saint-Eugen cemetery , where many French-born Algerians are buried.

Hours before Born’s arrival, President Macron telephoned Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and discussed with him the work of the high-level committee. The two presidents expressed their “satisfaction with the positive evolution and the level of bilateral relations,” according to a statement from the Algerian presidency.

No progress is expected on the sensitive issue of memory, 132 years of French colonialism (1830-1962), and the Algerian war of independence is not at the center of Bourne’s visit.

The committee of Algerian and French historians, announced by Macron and Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune at the end of August, is still “in the process of being created”, according to Paris.

The French prime minister is scheduled to meet Monday at lunch with the Algerian president, with whom Macron concluded a “renewed partnership” on six axes on August 27.

Born and his Algerian counterpart, Ayman Ben Abderrahmane, chaired this Sunday the V High-Level Intergovernmental Committee between the two countries, whose last meeting dates back to 2017, in Paris, where the focus was mainly on “economic cooperation.”

These meetings gave rise to the signing of 12 texts that included “declarations of intent” on employment, industrial cooperation, tourism, crafts and disability, as well as a “collaboration agreement” in the agricultural field and a “memorandum of understanding” upon startup -UPS.

Hosni Obeidi, director of the Center for Research on the Arab and Mediterranean World in Geneva, said that whatever the results, the convening of the high-level government committee is in itself a “real step forward” in the political dialogue.

And Paris wants to give a “new impetus” to the Franco-Algerian relationship.

And on the sensitive issue of visas, “the talks have not yet been successful,” the French government said on Thursday.

The two presidents paved the way, at the end of August, to relax the visa regime for Algerians, in exchange for greater cooperation from Algeria in the fight against illegal immigration.

This issue has marred bilateral relations since France halved the number of visas granted to Algerians, which Algeria considered incompatible with Paris’ request to welcome back its citizens expelled from France.

With regard to gas, Macron’s visit, accompanied by the head of the “enge” electricity and gas company, Catherine MacGregor, raised many expectations about an increase in shipments of Algerian gas to France, in the context of the shortage of Russian gas in Europe. .

But this file “is not on the agenda” of the visit, according to the French government.

“However, we will continue to develop our partnership in this sector with Algeria, especially with regard to liquefied natural gas, and to increase the efficiency of its gas production capacities,” Borne told the “All About Algeria” website.

In this sense, “talks continue” between Engie and the Algerian oil and gas group “Sonatrach”, according to a source familiar with the file.

The French prime minister is not accompanied by any of the large French groups, except for “Sanofi”, specialized in the pharmaceutical industry, which has a project to establish an insulin factory, and four small and medium-sized companies.

These companies are General Energy, which plans to build an olive pomace recycling and processing plant, Infinite Orbit, which has a project to build the first small Algerian satellite, New Eco, which works in the field of waste treatment such as asbestos, and Avril, who specializes in grain conversion.

For its part, the government agency “Business France”, responsible for international investment, accompanies dozens of companies to attend the Franco-Algerian Business Forum, which will be inaugurated by the prime ministers of the two countries on Monday.

The other focus of the visit is the young people with whom Elizabeth Bourne meets on Monday at the Lycée de France and then at the embassy, ​​with representatives of Algerian civil society.

On Friday, the deputy for the opposition right-wing Republican Party, Michele Tabaro, asked about the purpose of the visit: “If the issue of memory, security or our (gas) supply is not on your agenda, what is the point? of a visit of this size?”

About (AFP)