A visit by the French Prime Minister to Algiers, scheduled for Sunday and seen as a sign of warming between the two countries with complex relations, was postponed sine die Thursday, officially for health reasons, but for diplomatic reasons, according to sources familiar with the matter. “The Covid-19 epidemic does not allow these delegations to find themselves in fully satisfactory conditions”, announced the services of Jean Castex.
The Franco-Algerian intergovernmental committee, the framework planned for this meeting, “is therefore postponed to a later date, when the health context will be more favorable”, added the services of the Prime Minister. But in fact, according to French and Algerian sources, the size of the French delegation, reduced due to the epidemic, was deemed insufficient by the host authorities, dissatisfied, which precipitated this late cancellation.
A visit too short for the taste of Algiers
“The format of the delegation is not up to par” according to Algiers, said a French source with knowledge of the case. “The visit was reduced to one day and the delegation to four ministers. It is a sub-format when there were a lot of bilateral issues to study, ”confirmed an Algerian source. The French Prime Minister’s visit was to mark a new stage in the bilateral warming initiated by Presidents Emmanuel Macron and Abdelmadjid Tebboune.
The two countries have maintained tumultuous relations for decades, the result of colonial history and the Algerian war of independence (1954-1962). In France as in Algeria, this shared history is a sensitive subject for a large fringe of the population. Emmanuel Macron, the first French president born after the Algerian war, made certain gestures of openness to try to appease this relationship, such as the recognition of the assassination of an independentist militant, or the opening of the archives. French during the war period. Emmanuel Macron’s initiatives are part of the memorial recommendations of historian Benjamin Stora, whose report has been criticized in Algeria for not notably advocating an “apology” from Paris.
No meeting since 2017
The purpose of Sunday’s meeting was to hold for the first time since December 2017 a “high-level intergovernmental committee”, co-chaired by Jean Castex and his counterpart Abdelaziz Djerad, in order to take stock in particular of the economic cooperation between the two country. The popular protest movement of “Hirak” which led to the fall of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in 2019, the health crisis, but also the state of health of President Tebboune, did not allow the recent holding of a new edition. of this CIHN.
As a preamble to the now postponed visit, the Chief of Staff of the French Armies, General François Lecointre, was received in Algiers on Thursday by the Chief of Staff of the National People’s Army (ANP) Saïd Chanegriha for an unannounced trip during which the Algerian military requested assistance from Paris for the “rehabilitation” of French nuclear test sites in the Sahara sixty years ago.