Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune pleaded Wednesday, June 2 for a “Appeased, recognized memory”, between his country and France, with which he considers it essential to “Gateways” as long as Emmanuel Macron is in charge in Paris. In a weekly interview Point, President Tebboune once again called for recognition of the events that occurred during the colonization of Algeria by France (1830-1962).
“What we want is a peaceful, recognized memory. Let us get out of this Algerian fable “terra nullius” [territoire sans maître] where colonization would have brought civilization. That said, it is not the France of Voltaire, the France of the Enlightenment that we are judging. This is colonial France, he explains. All this does not concern the generation of President Macron, nor that of certain French intellectuals, who are beyond reproach, but recognizing these facts is important. Because why do we want to recognize what the Armenians and Jews suffered, and ignore what happened in Algeria? “
Relations between the two countries are struggling to warm up on a lasting basis. In early April, a visit by French Prime Minister Jean Castex was postponed until the last moment, officially due to the health crisis, in reality because Algiers was unhappy with the format of the French delegation.
The question of nuclear testing
“Macron has my respect. It is the most enlightened of all. The other presidents all had a history with Algeria ”, however estimated the Algerian head of state. “If we do not manage to build solid bridges between the two countries under the Macron presidency, it will never happen and our countries will always maintain a mutual hatred”, he warned, noting that “To recognize is a form of repentance”.
The French presidency excluded « excuses » and « repentance », but Emmanuel Macron has engaged in recent months a series of“Symbolic acts” in order to try to “Reconcile memories” between the two shores of the Mediterranean.
Abdelmadjid Tebboune also recalled that he was asking “That France comes to clean up the nuclear test sites, an operation which is well under way”. But he ruled out a financial negotiation. “We respect our dead so much that the financial compensation would be a belittling. We are not a beggar people, we are a proud people and we revere our martyrs. “
France carried out 17 nuclear tests in the Algerian Sahara, between 1960 and 1966, on the sites of Reggane and then of In Ekker. Eleven of them, all underground, are subsequent to the Evian Agreements of 1962, which marked the end of the Algerian War of Independence, but a clause allowed France to use the sites until 1967. of the Sahara. The case is one of the main memorial disputes between Algiers and Paris.
“This is not the original Hirak”
In this long interview, the Algerian president also discusses the early legislative elections, which he called on June 12. Despite an electoral campaign that does not drain the crowds, Mr. Tebboune assures that“There is a craze, especially among young people”, for this ballot boycotted by part of the opposition, and warns that“There is no other way out”.
In addition, he considers that the popular protest movement of Hirak – which caused the fall of ex-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika in 2019 – has lost its legitimacy. “Today, in what remains of Hirak, we find everything, there are some who cry ‘Islamic State!’ and others who chant “No Islam!”. The protesters may be expressing anger, but this is not the original Hirak. It’s very heterogeneous ”, he argues.
Asked about the wave of repression targeting Iraqi militants, political opponents and journalists, Mr. Tebboune denounces ” a minority [qui] refused the election “. “I think that every Algerian has the right to express himself, but I refuse the diktat of a minority”, answers the Head of State, elected in December 2019 with a record abstention (60%). More than 200 people are currently imprisoned for acts related to Hirak and / or individual freedoms, according to human rights organizations.