President Emmanuel Macron is trying to strengthen bilateral ties with Algeria, sometimes hit by a painful colonial past.
French President Emmanuel Macron visited a Christian shrine and the temple raï in Oran, on the last day of his visit to Algeria, on Saturday, before returning to officially seal the relaunch of the bilateral relationship in Algiers.
The procession of the Head of State climbed to the fort of Santa Cruz on the heights of Oran (west), discovering a view overlooking the bay of the second city of Algeria, bathed by the Mediterranean.
The adjoining chapel, a popular pilgrimage site during French colonization (1830-1962), remains a place of contemplation and walks for Algerians.
He then joined the mini-boutique of the Disco Maghreb record company, emblematic of raï, a very popular musical trend in the 1980s. This style was brought up to date by the latest track by the animator Snake.
French President Emmanuel Macron and Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune were able to discuss within the framework of the Mr. Macron's three-day official visit to Algeria.
In shirt sleeves and a glass of tea in hand, Mr. Macron spoke with the boss of the record company, Boualem Benhaoua, 68, who told him that new talents would soon be recorded in a seaside studio
As he left, he rejoiced that Oran and Disco Maghreb were still the epicenter of raï, of popular culture, of huge crowds of artists, before enjoying an impromptu walkabout.
The atmosphere was hectic and the walkabout was cut short, police preventing the curious from approaching the French president. On images released by the Élysée, we see people saying hello to him with a smile or brandishing a phone for a selfie.
Mr. Macron was then to meet young athletes, in particular breakdance champions.
Before leaving Algiers, he had met young entrepreneurs and people from associations who questioned him about visa problems, the decline of French in Algeria and the memorial dispute between the two countries.
< p class="e-p">After months of diplomatic crisis linked to this still painful past, the French president and that of Algeria, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, announced on the first day of Mr. Macron's visit on Thursday a new dynamic in the bilateral relationship.
French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed by Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, on his right, on his arrival at Algiers airport on August 25, 2022, at the start of an official visit to Algeria.
They will seal it on Saturday with the solemn signing of a joint declaration for a renewed, concrete and ambitious partnership, a step added at the last minute to Mr. Macron's program.
It will be a new partnership for and by young people, assured the French president on Friday, announcing already the acceptance of 8,000 students more Algerians this year in France, who will join an annual contingent of 30,000 young people.
In addition to the memory file around French colonization, the question of visas poisoned the bilateral relationship when Paris decided, in the fall of 2021, to halve the number granted to Algeria, judging that it ci was not quick enough to readmit its nationals expelled from France.
It will be a question of fighting against illegal immigration while easing the procedures for families of dual nationals, artists, athletes, entrepreneurs and politicians who nurture the bilateral relationship.
A mixed commission of French and Algerian historians will also be created to look the entire period of colonization in the face, without taboos.
In Paris, Thomas Ménagé, deputy of the [extreme right] National Rally, criticized a president who went to bed announcing this commission, accusing Algeria of using the past.
In Algiers, Mr. Macron's visit did not please everyone either, many Algerians waiting for a proper apology from France for colonization and from the President for his about the fall of 2021, where he seemed to doubt the existence of an Algerian nation before the landing of the French army in June 1830.
History cannot be written with lies […] One of the biggest lies is to say that Algeria was created by France. It was expected that this gross untruth would be erased by Macron during this visit, said Le Soir d'Algérie published on Saturday.