Paris and Algiers are eager to “strengthen” their relationship

The French and Algerian prime ministers expressed on Sunday in Algiers their desire to “improve” their relationship after the agreement initiated by the presidents of the two countries at the end of August.

“This is a step to establish greater cooperation between France and Algeria”, declared the head of the French government Elisabeth Borne in the press after the meeting, for the first time since 2017, of the High Level Intergovernmental Committee ( HLIC).

After signing bilateral economic cooperation, movement or cultural agreements, Ms. Borne – who went to Algeria with a large delegation of fifteen ministers – emphasized the “strong sign” of this trip, his first to a stranger, calling an “atmosphere of trust and brotherhood”.

He mentioned three pillars for this “strengthened” partnership: the economy to “promote trade, innovation and create jobs”; movement and visas; and youth through more education and cultural cooperation.

His Algerian counterpart Aïmene Benabderrahmane praised the “quality of political dialogue” and a “great gathering on the importance of strengthening consultation and coordination on regional and international issues of common interest”.

“The era of misunderstanding is behind us”, said Ms. Borne before his visit about the ultra-sensitive question of the memory of the colonization and the war in Algeria.

– Lunch with Tebboune –

The head of the French government confirmed in this regard that the composition of the commission of historians from the two coasts, which should examine “without taboo” the archives of the two countries, is only a matter “of some days”.

He began his visit on Sunday with gestures of remembrance, like President Emmanuel Macron during his trip at the end of August which, after months of tension, made it possible to warm the relationship between the two countries.

Mr. Benabderrahmane insisted on “the importance of continuing joint work”, through this commission and “the establishment of mixed working groups concerned with questions of memory”.

As a prelude to this trip, Mr. Macron spoke by phone on Sunday with his counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune, pleading again for the realization of the “renewed and ambitious partnership” decided five weeks ago.

Elisabeth Borne will have lunch on Monday with Mr. Tebboune, who signed with Mr. Macron on August 27 in a “Declaration of Algiers” on the six axes of bilateral cooperation.

The CIHN meeting on Sunday resulted in the signing of a dozen texts: “declarations of intent” on work, industrial cooperation, tourism and crafts, or disability, a “partnership agreement” on agriculture and a “memorandum of understanding” for starters. .

The holding of the CIHN itself is “a step forward” in the political dialogue, according to Hasni Abidi, director of the Center for Studies and Research on the Arab and Mediterranean World (Cermam) in Geneva.

– “Strong exchange” –

Wanted in Paris and Algiers

On the delicate issue of visas that will be greatly reduced in Paris in the fall of 2021, Ms. Borne said that he discussed “ways to encourage student, scientific, artistic and economic activity”, while Mr. Benabderrahmane insisted on the need for a “real acceleration of the movement of people”.

Reported by Ms. Borne the “intense exchange” on this issue between the French Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin and his Algerian alter ego, saying that he is “confident that it will end quickly”.

The presidents of the two countries prepared the way at the end of August for a relaxation of the visa regime granted to Algeria, in exchange for more cooperation from Algiers in the fight against illegal immigration.

This question has poisoned bilateral relations since Paris halved the number of visas granted to Algeria, which it considered not quick enough to return its nationals expelled from France.

Increasing deliveries of Algerian gas to France is not on the agenda, but Ms. Borne said he was “continuing to make progress” with Algeria to increase gas production capacities.

Only brought by Ms. Borne has a large group with him, Sanofi, which has an insulin factory project, and four SMEs: Générale Energie, which is considering the construction of a processing plant for olive pits, Infinite Orbits, with a project for the first. Algerian microsatellite, Neo-Eco, which works in the treatment of waste such as asbestos, and Avril, which specializes in cereal processing.

For its part, Business France, a public structure responsible for international investment, brings dozens of companies to the Franco-Algerian Business Forum, which will be inaugurated on Monday by the two Prime Ministers.

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