ALGIERIA: What To Expect From Macron’s Visit To Algiers

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Ten months after describing colonization as a “crime against humanity,” the French president will carry out his first presidential visit to Algiers on Wednesday (December 6th). But the memorial question was not placed at the heart of this visit.

Then candidate for the presidential election, Emmanuel Macron had promised at the end of a meeting held in Algiers last February to return quickly to Algeria, if elected. Promise held. Seven months after his inauguration, the French head of state will make his first official visit this Wednesday, December 6 in Algiers. But the ambitions seem to have been revised downwards since the trip was requalified as a “visit of friendship and work” and not “state”.

The tenant of the Elysee, just returned from an African tour , will finally spend only a few hours in Algiers. Expected at the end of the morning on the tarmac of Houari Boumediène airport, Emmanuel Macron, accompanied by his wife, will first agree a walkabout in the city center of the Algerian capital, before taking the direction of the residence of the ambassador where he will meet representatives of civil society, including young Algerians.

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Meeting with Abdelaziz Bouteflika

It is with no charge that the French head of state will chain political appointments during the afternoon. Emmanuel Macron will meet briefly with members of the Algerian government, beginning with Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia , before heading to the nursing home in Zéralda, in the western suburbs of Algiers, where President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is staying. After meeting with a part of the French community, living on Algerian soil, Emmanuel Macron will fly to the end of the evening for Qatar.

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A tight schedule that leaves little room for sensitive issues related to reconciliation between the two countries. Yet it is precisely on this point that the French leader is the most awaited since his remarks last February. On the sidelines of its meeting in Algiers, the founder of the party En Marche! became one of the first French politicians to call colonization a “crime against humanity”. A statement that had been well received on the Algerian side but had sparked the ire of some of the French right and extreme right.

Symbolic gesture

If we can not expect important announcements on the memory issue, it is however likely that Emmanuel Macron will make a symbolic gesture by announcing the return to Algeria of the skulls of Algerian resistance currently held by the museum of the ‘Man in Paris. Several Algerian intellectuals, including Benjamin Stora, have relaunched the debate last July.

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But the priority of this lightning visit remains the strengthening of economic cooperation at a time when France is trying to reinvigorate trade between the two shores and reclaim Algeria’s leading supplier position, which it has ceded to China. 2014.

Since the agreement to install a Peugeot plant in Algeria, signed last November, France is eyeing other projects in the automotive, pharmaceuticals and agribusiness sectors in particular. The arrival of Emmanuel Macron will be followed by a high-level intergovernmental committee (CIHN), chaired by the two Prime Ministers, to be held Thursday, December 7 in Paris.

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