Macron judges that he does not have to “ask forgiveness” from Algiers for colonization

The work of memory between Paris and Algiers will not go through a mea culpa. Emmanuel Macron believes that he does not “have to ask forgiveness” from Algeria for colonization. However, he hopes to welcome his counterpart Abdelmajid Tebboune to France in 2023 to pursue reconciliation between the two countries.

“I don’t have to ask for forgiveness, that’s not the point, the word would break all ties,” he explains in an interview with the Algerian writer Kamel Daoud in the weekly. Point published Wednesday evening.

The work of memory “is not a balance of all accounts”

“The worst would be to conclude: ‘We apologize and everyone goes their own way'”. “The work of memory and history is not a balance of all accounts”. “It is, on the contrary, to maintain that there is something unspeakable, something misunderstood, something perhaps undecidable, something unforgivable,” he stresses.

The issue of apologies is at the heart of the bilateral relationship and recurring tensions between the two countries. In 2020, Algeria had freshly welcomed a report by the French historian Benjamin Stora advocating a series of gestures to try to reconcile the two countries, while excluding “repentance” and “apologies”.

“I also hope that President Tebboune will be able to come to France in 2023”, notes Emmanuel Macron, in order to continue “an unprecedented work of friendship (…)” after the visit he himself made to Algeria in August. 2022. Asked about the possibility of a ceremony of meditation by the Algerian president on the graves of members of Abdelkader’s suite, heroes of the resistance to French colonization, buried in Amboise, he considered that it would be “a very beautiful and very strong moment” and that he “wished for it”. “I believe this will make sense in the history of the Algerian people. For the French people, it will be an opportunity to understand often hidden realities”.

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A “clumsy sentence” in 2021

President Macron’s trip to Algiers in August put the bilateral relationship back on track after a crisis linked to comments he had made in October 2021. The Head of State then criticized the “politico-military system Algerian to surf on the “memory rent” and had wondered about the existence of an Algerian nation before colonization. “It may be a clumsy sentence that could have hurt,” concedes Emmanuel Macron. But “these moments of tension teach us”, “you have to know how to stretch out your hand”.

Emmanuel Macron also calls for the “appeasement” of tensions between Algeria and Morocco, the two rival powers in the region. He says he does not believe in a war between these neighbors, while noting “speculation among some, fantasy among others and even the will to war among some”. Algeria severed diplomatic relations with Morocco in August 2021, accusing Rabat of “hostile acts”. A decision “completely unjustified”, according to Rabat.

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