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Paris reaffirms respect for Algerian sovereignty

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune (R) meets with the visiting French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in the capital Algiers on January 21, 2020 [RYAD KRAMDI/AFP via Getty Images]
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune (R) meets with the visiting French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in the capital Algiers on January 21, 2020 [RYAD KRAMDI/AFP via Getty Images]

French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian reiterated, on Tuesday, "the unwavering respect for Algerian sovereignty", amid the tension that prevails in relations between Paris and Algiers, particularly regarding colonial history.

"The President of the Republic (Emmanuel Macron) reiterated his great respect for the Algerian people recently," Le Drian said at the French National Assembly.

"This certainly conveys a firm respect for Algerian sovereignty," the foreign minister continued, adding, "It is up to the Algerians, and it is up to them alone to decide their fate and determine the frameworks of their choices and political discussions."

On 2 October, Algeria summoned its ambassador to Paris in response to statements by the French President, which were reported by Le Monde newspaper, in which he considered that Algeria was built only after its independence in 1962 on "memory revenue" established by the "politico-military regime". He also questioned the existence of an Algerian nation before French colonialism.

Algeria also banned French warplanes from crossing its airspace, which France regularly uses to reach its forces fighting jihadists in the African Sahel region.

On Sunday, Algerian President, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, said in a meeting with media representatives broadcast on state television that "the return of the Algerian ambassador to Paris is conditional to full respect for the Algerian State."

When asked about summoning the ambassador, Le Drian expressed his regret at the move, and said, "This matter does not reflect the importance of relations between our two nations."

"We are convinced that working together is in the common interest. I think that many Algerian officials at all levels share this vision."

OPINION: Macron retracts his insulting statements to Algeria and seeks a truce

Macron's statements to Le Monde newspaper received wide attention from the Algerian press, which republished them, describing them as "provocative" and "stinging".

According to the newspaper, Macron talked about "an official history that has been completely rewritten … and that is not based on facts" but rather on a "rhetoric based on hatred of France", describing Tebboune as "trapped in a very difficult regime."

On 28 September and, in addition to Macron's statements and the controversy over colonial history, Paris angered Algerians when it decided to tighten the requirements for entry visas for citizens of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, while it is seeking to deport immigrants from these countries, at the same time. Paris accounted for her decision with the failure of the three countries to do what is necessary to allow returning immigrants who are residing illegally in France.

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