Algerian war: Macron rejects any “repentance” and calls to look at the past “with courage”

Algerian war: Macron rejects any “repentance” and calls to look at the past “with courage”

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday that the search for “the truth” and “recognition” was more important than “repentance” on the issues of colonization and the Algerian war which poison the relationship between Paris and Algiers. “I often hear that, on the question of memory and the Franco-Algerian question, we are constantly summoned to choose between pride and repentance”, declared the French president during a press briefing in Algiers on the second day of his visit to Algeria.

“It’s not repentance at all”

“I want the truth, the recognition (because) otherwise we will never move forward”, he hammered, noting that the exercise promised to be easier for the new generation which, like him, does not is “not a child of the Algerian war”. “This story, we must face it with courage, with lucidity, with truth,” he said. This is the goal of the Franco-Algerian commission of historians, the creation of which was announced following talks with Algerian President Abelmadjid Tebboune, he explained. “It’s not repentance at all,” added the head of state, responding in advance to criticism from those nostalgic for French Algeria while once again excluding presenting a long-awaited apology to Algiers.

The commission will look at the “early days of colonization with their harshness, with the brutality of these events” but also on the “disappeared”, noted Emmanuel Macron. Algeria has long been asking for a work of memory on the dark pages of the 132 years of French colonization, and not only on the last seven years of the war of independence (1954-1962). The question of Algerians and Europeans who disappeared during the war also remains a subject of questioning for families on both sides of the Mediterranean.

All archives will be open

This commission will be made up of five to six historians on each side, with “perhaps initial work within a year, which we will then mark out with common gestures”, sketched Emmanuel Macron. “We are going to open all the archives to them (…) The Algerian president told me: I am also opening mine,” he noted. The Franco-Algerian relationship is a “love story which has its share of tragedy”, continued Emmanuel Macron, questioned on the diplomatic crisis caused by his remarks on the “memorial rent” of the “Algerian political-military” system and the Algerian nation.

“You have to be able to get angry to reconcile,” he said. The French president also insisted on the importance of this memory work to enable the two countries to move forward. “France cannot move forward without moving forward on this subject, nor can Algeria,” he said. “It’s almost psychoanalytical in the life of nations”, he said, pointing out that after wars there is always a period of “forgetting” but that “in recent decades, we have witnessed the return of repressed”, “resentment” and “fantasy about history”.


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