Paris and Algiers want to “densify” their relationship.
In Algiers on Sunday, the Prime Ministers of France and Algeria expressed their desire to “consolidate” their relations following the rapprochement initiated by the two countries’ presidents at the end of August.
“It is a step to build even closer cooperation between France and Algeria,” French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne told the press after the first meeting of the High Level Intergovernmental Committee (HLIC) since 2017.
After signing bilateral economic cooperation, mobility or cultural agreements, Ms Borne – who came to Algeria with an imposing delegation of fifteen ministers – highlighted the “strong sign” of this trip, her first stranger who created an “atmosphere of trust and fraternity”.
She identified three pillars for this “enhanced” partnership: business to “develop trade, innovation and job creation”; mobility and visas; and youth through increased cooperation in the fields of education and culture.
His Algerian counterpart Aïmene Benabderrahmane welcomed the “quality of the political dialogue” and a “great consensus on the importance of strengthening consultation and coordination on regional and international issues of common interest”.
“The time of incomprehension is behind us,” said Ms. Borne before her visit on the highly sensitive question of remembering the colonization and the Algerian war.
– Lunch with Tebboune –
In this regard, the French head of government asserted that the composition of the commission of historians on both banks, which had to examine the archives of both countries “without taboos”, was only a matter of “a few days”.
She began her visit on Sunday with commemorative gestures, like those made by President Emmanuel Macron during his trip in late August, that allowed relations between the two countries to warm up after months of tension.
Mr Benabderrahmane stressed “the importance of continuing the joint work” through this commission and “the establishment of mixed working groups dealing with issues of memory”.
At the start of this trip, Mr. Macron spoke to his counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune by telephone on Sunday and again called 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 an “Algiers Declaration” with Mr. Macron on August 27 on six axes of bilateral cooperation.
Sunday’s CIHN meeting resulted in the signing of a dozen texts: “Memorandums of Understanding” on employment, industrial cooperation, tourism and crafts or disabilities, a “Partnership Agreement” on agriculture and a “Memorandum of Understanding” on start-ups.
Holding the CIHN in itself “is already a step forward” in political dialogue, according to Hasni Abidi, director of the Center for Studies and Research on the Arab and Mediterranean World (Cermam) in Geneva.
– “Intensive exchange” –
Referring to the thorny issue of visas, severely reduced by Paris in autumn 2021, Ms Borne said she had mentioned “the means to encourage student, scientific, artistic and economic mobility” while Mr Benabderrahmane pointed to the need for a ” real facilitation of passenger traffic”.
Ms Borne recounted an “intense exchange” on the issue between French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and his Algerian alter ego, and said she was “confident they will come to an end quickly”.
At the end of August, the presidents of the two countries paved the way for an easing of the visa regime for Algeria in exchange for greater cooperation between Algiers in the fight against illegal immigration.
This issue has poisoned bilateral relations since Paris halved the number of visas for Algeria, which was deemed not quick enough to readmit its nationals expelled from France.
Increasing deliveries of Algerian gas to France is not on the agenda, but Ms Borne said she will “make further progress” with Algeria to increase its gas production capacity.
Ms Borne took away only one large corporation, Sanofi, which has an insulin factory project, and four SMEs: Générale Energie, which is considering building an olive pit processing plant, Infinite Orbits, which has a project for Algeria’s first microsatellite, Neo-Eco, the works on processing waste such as asbestos, and Avril, which specializes in processing grain.
For its part, Business France, a public body in charge of international investments, is bringing dozens of companies to the Franco-Algerian business forum that will be opened by the two prime ministers on Monday.
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