France pursues new start in relations with Algeria

Tunis, Aug 25 (EFE).- French President Emmanuel Macron began an official visit to Algeria on Thursday with the announcement of plans to form a bilateral commission to examine the events of France’s 132-year-long colonial rule of the North African nation.

“We have a complex, painful common past. And it has at times prevented us from looking to the future,” he said during a joint press conference with Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

Macron arrived in Algiers at the head of a delegation of 90 people, including figures from the worlds of the arts and business, for a three-day visit whose official focus is on social and cultural relations, though the two governments are sure to discuss Europe’s energy crisis and the security situation in the Sahel region.

Algerians are celebrated the 60th anniversary of their independence from France, won at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives in a war that lasted eight years.

Macron’s second visit to Algeria marks an end to the rift that erupted last year after he accused the Algerian government of fostering “hatred towards France.”

Those comments prompted Algeria to recall its ambassador from Paris and to bar French military planes from Algerian airspace.

But Tebboune pointed Thursday to what he described as “promising prospects for improving the special partnership that binds us.”

The presidents agreed to name a panel of historians from both countries to review the period from the start of French colonization in 1830 until its end in 1962.

“We will not take the easy way,” Macron said, promising that the committee will have access to French archives in the “quest for truth.”

Prior to the press conference, Macron and Tebboune paid a visit to the Martyrs’ Memorial, which honors Algerians who died in the war for independence.

The French president was accompanied by seven members of his Cabinet, including Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna and Interior Minister Gerard Darmanin, who met Thursday with their respective counterparts, Ramtane Lamamra and Kamel Beldjoud.

Macron’s visit will conclude Saturday in Oran, Algeria’s second city, with a program featuring a performance of breakdancing, set to make its debut as an Olympic event in Paris in 2024.

Algeria, Africa’s largest producer of natural gas, is receiving a lot of attention from European governments seeking to replace Russian gas in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Algiers already supplies gas to Spain and Italy via pipelines under the Mediterranean. EFE lfp/dr

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