France will recognise its colonial crimes against the Algerian people “today or tomorrow”, the Anadolu Agency reported a senior minister saying.
Commenting on remarks by French President Francois Hollande who has recently denied that his country committed genocide in Algeria during the colonial period between 1830 and 1962, Minister of War Veterans Tayeb Zaitoni told reporters: “If France does not recognise its crimes in Algeria today, it will do tomorrow.”
“We will carry the message of our victims from one generation to another and we’re proud of our ancestors,” Zaitouni added.
On Tuesday, France’s Canal+ channel broadcasted a video in which Hollande tells a French student of Algerian origin: “It was not genocide in Algeria but a war which we recognise.”
The student later interrupts the French president saying: “No, but it was genocide, you killed Algerians and tortured them.” Hollande replied: “No, we did not want a genocide and did not want to kill the Algerians. Indeed it was a very painful war and yes mass graves are being discovered till this day and we must recognise this, but definitely not genocide, because we did not want to kill all the people.”
Since its independence from France in 1962, the Algerian authorities, political parties and organisations of war veterans and their families have been demanding Paris issue a formal apology for the crimes it committed against Algerians during the colonial period and to compensate the victims’ families. However, the French authorities stress that they should start looking to the future.
French Deputy Defence Minister for Veterans and Memory, Jean-Marc Todeschini visited Algeria on Sunday to mark the 70th anniversary of the massacre in Setif, 300 kilometres east of Algiers.
Zaitouni described the visit as a “good but insufficient step”.
Algerian authorities say 1.5 million people were killed during the armed liberation revolution between 1954 and 1962 along with hundreds of thousands who were injured and displaced.