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11.10.2021 Algeria

Algeria says envoy will only return if France shows ‘total respect'

By RFI
© AP/AFP/Montage RFI
LISTEN OCT 11, 2021
© AP/AFP/Montage RFI

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has said the return of its ambassador to Paris depends on France showing it fully respects Algeria, following a row over visas and critical comments attributed to President Macron.

Algeria recalled its envoy to Paris last week and banned French military planes from its airspace.

The moves came after a bitter row over visas, and comments attributed to Emmanuel Macron in Le Monde that Algeri'a's rulers had rewriten the history of colonisation based on "a hatred of France'".

The office of Algeria's president responded by saying the comments, which have not been denied, were an “interference” in the country's internal affairs.

On Sunday President Tebboune spoke publicly for the first time about the row with France, demanding “total respect” from the former colonial power.

The return of the Algerian ambassador to France “is conditional on total respect for the Algerian state”, Tebboune told Ennahar TV.

“We forget that it [Algeria] was once a French colony... History should not be falsified,” he added.

“We can't act like nothing happened."

Legacy of colonialism

President Macron said last week that he hoped diplomatic tensions with Algeria would soon ease, telling France Inter radio that he had "truly cordial" relations with the Algerian president.

But relations between the two countries are currently spiralling downwards.

Macron's remarks to Le Monde in which he described Tebboune as being "trapped in a system which is very tough" were widely picked up by Algerian media – which slammed them as “vitriolic”.

Algeria previously recalled its ambassador from France in May 2020 after French public media broadcast a documentary about the Hirak pro-democracy protest movement which had forced Tebboune's predecessor Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power in 2019.

Macron has nonetheless gone further than previous French presidents in seeking to face up to the legacy of France's colonial history.

In 2017, while campaigning for the presidential election, he declared that the colonisation of Algeria was a “crime against humanity”.

Last month he asked for “forgiveness” from the families of Algerians who fought alongside the French in Algeria.

And last year, Macron tasked French historian Benjamin Stora to assess how France has dealt with its colonial legacy in Algeria.

Algiers rejected the Stora report, saying it was “not objective” and failed to prove an “official recognition by France of war crimes and crimes against humanity, perpetrated during the 130 years of the occupation of Algeria”.

In his report Stora said France and Algiers were locked in a “never-ending memory war” and competing claims of victimisation.

(with newwires)

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