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Between France and Algeria, rapprochement after the crisis


“The relationship between France and Algeria is fluctuating. » The little sentence dropped on March 23 on Al-Jazeera by the Algerian President, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, was a clue. Whether “fluctuation there is between Paris and Algiers, so the current estrangement was not destined to last. In fact, it did not take very long to see the pendulum swing in the other direction, that of warming. The next day, Mr. Tebboune and Emmanuel Macron took note of the resumption of dialogue in the form of a telephone exchange which, according to a press release from the Elysee Palace issued in stride, made it possible to “remove misunderstandings” born of the crisis caused by the reception in France of Amira Bouraoui.

This Algerian opponent – ​​also holder of a French passport – had joined France in early February from Tunisia where she had taken refuge after fleeing Algeria. French diplomacy having intervened to wrest from Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed the green light to let her go, the Algerian regime saw it as an operation of“exfiltration” under a “act of barbouzerie”. In retaliation, Algiers then froze most of its bilateral cooperation with France. A new crisis, a new storm, as it ritually breaks out between the two capitals. Did we get out? While the time is undoubtedly easing, skepticism prevails as to the duration of the upturn. ” Fluctuation » obligatory ?

In the immediate future, everyone tries to restart a machine that had stopped dead. The Algerian ambassador stationed in Paris, Saïd Moussi, recalled for “consultation” in Algiers in the wake of the“Bouraoui case”, is expected to return to his post in the French capital this week. ” Migration and consular cooperation must now resume its course “says a French source. While the sky is clearing again, the plan for a state visit by Mr. Tebboune to France, which we thought was doomed in the short term, is once again becoming topical. The move will take place may’s beginning “, confirms the Elysée.

Read also: Franco-Algerian opponent Amira Bouraoui, a refugee in Tunis, joins France after escaping deportation to Algeria

The Algerians” expected a gesture from France” to outline this normalization, decodes an Algerian-French source familiar with this new sequence. “It took the form of a courtesy call from Emmanuel Macron on the occasion of the beginning of the month of Ramadan, add this source. On the French side, it is a kind of outstretched hand to get the Algerians out of the anger in which they had locked themselves up. » the said “angry” was, it is true, more than touchy. ” It was very violentsays a diplomatic source in Paris. Usually, crises result in a slowdown, but here the Algerians have dismantled cooperation of all kinds. »

Deep Wrath

The most spectacular of these retaliatory measures was the suspension of the issuance of consular laissez-passer. The latter allow Paris to send back to Algeria Algerian citizens in an irregular situation in France after recognition of their identity by the Algerian consulates, a validation made necessary by the fact that those subject to deportation generally destroy their papers. Before the burst“Bouraoui affair”, Algerian cooperation was considered encouraging in Paris with the granting of around 200 consular passes per month, i.e. a return to the level of activity that prevailed before the Covid-19 crisis. And then, the curve collapsed with the controversy around the Franco-Algerian opponent. So much so that Algiers has even refused to admit to its territory Algerians expelled from France without having needed a consular pass because they had kept their identity papers. Three exceptional cases of this type have been recorded. They tell of the depth of the wrath of Algiers.

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Another indicator of the crisis, French diplomats and employees of the embassy and consulate in Algiers found themselves de facto banned from leaving the territory of the wilaya of Algiers. The practice is indeed that the staff of the diplomatic representations request authorization from the Algerian authorities to travel outside the limits of the prefecture of the capital. However, in this case, no response was provided to the requests, which de facto assigned the interested parties to the Algerian camera. This measure is generally applied to each acute crisis between the two countries. The latest dated back to the fall of 2021 in retaliation for Mr. Macron’s statements equating the Algiers regime with a “politico-military system” built on the “memorial pension” And “hatred of France”.

The Bouraoui affair also resulted in an avalanche of visa refusals affecting indiscriminately a large number of French people wishing to go to Algeria. Among these are personalities who have been invited for a long time to intervene within the framework of bilateral programs, for example training in communication and media professions agreed with Algerian universities. French people dispatched within the framework of mixed commissions were also targeted, as were those requested by French institutes in Algeria to participate in March in the cultural meetings planned as part of the month of la Francophonie. “It’s a funny measure of retaliation, the one that consists in depriving the Algerians of meetings to affect the French authorities”, bitterly underlines a personality from the world of culture. The new French consul in Algiers has still not been able to take up his duties, for lack of a visa, which has been awaited for five months.

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In Paris, we are therefore going to watch for the gestures of Algiers in these different areas where Algerian spite had manifested itself. The issue of memorial reconciliation, also broken down, is another field where everyone’s goodwill will be judged. During Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Algiers in August, the “Franco-Algerian declaration for a renewed partnership” signed by the two presidents had made memory a priority. In particular, provision had been made for the creation of a mixed commission of historians. However, if Algiers has appointed its five experts, Paris has still not formalized the appointment of its own, even though Benjamin Stora, the inspiration behind Mr. Macron’s memorial policy, leaked five names at the end of January. ” The French part of the mixed commission is still not legally constituted, confirms the historian Tramor Quemeneur, approached to be the secretary general. Its work is therefore on hold. And there, Paris is solely responsible for the stagnation.