François Hollande pays state visit to Algeria

Visit to Algeria – Statements made by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, during his joint press conference with Mr Abdelaziz Bouteflika, President of Algeria (excerpts)

Tlemcen, 20 December 2012

THE PRESIDENT – Ladies and gentlemen,

We’re coming to the end of this visit, an exceptional one in very many respects. I want to thank President Bouteflika and his government for their welcome and for building a high- level political relationship, this partnership between equals I’d called for. (…)

France has been well received here and a lot is expected from us: not to go back over the past – I’ve spoken the truth – but to build the future, forge projects in the economic sphere – and very important agreements have been signed – and the cultural arena, where Algerians are realizing the value not just of the French language as a link, but also of academic exchanges; and in this respect, in the reception given at Tlemcen University to me as President but also to France, I also heard calls for high-level cooperation.

I’m not going to go on any longer because I said that I’d judge the visit’s success by the yardstick of what we were able to say about the past and do for the future. And I had focused my rendezvous with Algeria on two essential words: “truth” when talking about history and “determination” to build the future, and it’s by focusing on these two words that we have, I believe, made a success of this visit. (…)

France/Algeria/colonial past/reconciliation

Q. – You appealed for people to look to the future. In fact France is continuing to approach these relations with the African continent on the basis of the colonial heritage. So is it really likely that the page of the colonial past is going to be turned?

In your speech at Tlemcen University, when talking about reconciliation in Algeria, you said that meeting and coming together weren’t enough. Please could you be more explicit?

THE PRESIDENT – I’m going to be, since you’re giving me the opportunity to do so. Several weeks ago, I gave a speech in Dakar on the form of relationship I wanted to achieve with Africa, i.e. also geared towards the future, with a determination not to perpetuate any confusion. France has a relationship with Africa and with every other continent which has to be based on principles. But this is even more the case with countries formerly in the so-called colonial empire and with which our relationship must be one of equality and mutual respect. But nor must the past be perpetuated as a form of recrimination. We’ve said what needed to be said about the colonial system; I also spoke about it this morning. So we can work together on this basis of truth, respect and commitment for the future.

As regards the reconciliation, it was necessary, indispensable, and I welcomed the process initially instigated by President Bouteflika, whereby it took 10 years to achieve a situation where there is once more security, understanding. But at the same time, I know that Algeria wants to go further. While she is reunited, has come together, has succeeded, here too, in exorcising fears and eradicating intolerance and violence, she, Algeria, wants to commit for the future and so we, France, must deliver; moreover, Algeria is looking to the whole world and not just France. I’m not asking for any exclusivity, I’m simply saying that relations and ties between France and Algeria are such that we can do much more than we’re doing today and this is what we’re going to show through the declaration of friendship, the document setting in train a five-year period of cooperation. So now deeds are needed, because during the visit the words have been spoken and agreements signed, but now we have to translate them into action. (…)

Visit dividends

Q. – You’ve just, at the beginning of your press conference, made a first assessment, if I can call it that, of your visit, which you considered very exceptional. What will be the immediate results of putting relations on this new footing or rather refocusing this bilateral relationship? What will this visit’s dividends be in the immediate future?

THE PRESIDENT – Dividends are like fruits, we have to wait for there to have been sufficient investment to find or recover them again. I believe there has already been an immediate result: the particularly favourable atmosphere during this visit, the atmosphere between the two presidents and two governments, and not just the welcome extended to me, but also the words chosen by everyone here to transcend anything which has separated us, in order to build. This is the immediate result: a trust, the concern to go forward and also this call to young people. Can we get quick, concrete results? I believe so. For employment, we’ve got this new Renault plant. For cultural cooperation, things will move fast; for agriculture, things have also been clearly set out; for defence, forging a defence agreement wasn’t so straightforward. There’s been fairly substantial progress, but you’re right: people will judge on the long term. Personally, I’m conscious of what’s happened in the past: announcements, hopes, and then disappointments.

So we’re going to be very vigilant; hence too the method we’ve used: every year compliance with the agreements and document we’ve signed will be verified.

Historians’ joint effort/Tibhirine monks

Q. – You said in Algiers that you were in favour of truth about the war and of remembering the wounded. Can we right away think of or envisage a joint effort between the two parties’ historians? The second question concerns the assassination of the monks of Tibhirine and the investigation the French courts intend to conduct right here in Algeria. Is this also going to produce answers, or perhaps more answers?

THE PRESIDENT – I’ve called for our archives to be opened up, for our historians to be able to work, for a commission in which French historians and Algerian historians can work together. The Algerians want this too and it’s the right method.

Secondly, on the judicial side, there’s a French judicial investigation and an Algerian judicial investigation. There’s cooperation. And we must ensure all the judicial work on the still outstanding question of the Tibhirine monks is carried out wholly independently and also in total freedom.

Algeria/Morocco/Western Sahara issue/arms agreement

Q. – I’ve got two questions. The first: Tlemcen is a stone’s throw from the Moroccan border. Did the Sahara issue come up in your discussions with President Bouteflika? Can we hope for a review of the French position on it?

Secondly, French officials have intimated that Paris is prepared to sell arms to Algeria. Have you received a really clear and specific request from the Algerian authorities?

THE PRESIDENT – We talked about the closed border between Algeria and Morocco and its causes, i.e. the continuing dispute about the future of Western Sahara. The French position is the following: the UN, nothing but the UN and all the United Nations resolutions, and we won’t change it.

Secondly, as you know, I’ll be going to Morocco early in 2013 and I’m not a mediator, it’s not my job to act as an intermediary and no one is asking me to. But I’ll say to the Moroccans the same as I’ve said to the Algerians: we must move towards the application of the UN resolutions and ensure that the issue which caused the border’s closure can be resolved. I believe this is in the Maghreb’s interest.

As regards defence equipment and support organization, there’s an agreement. You’ll be able to read it, it isn’t secret. So it isn’t war materiel, it’s equipment which the agreement provides for. It isn’t weapons as one might think. (…) ./.

Algeria/French-Algerian bilateral relationship – Joint communiqué issued by the French and Algerian Ministers of Foreign Affairs (excerpts)

Algiers, 20 December 2012

At the invitation of the Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, French President François Hollande paid a state visit to Algeria on 19 and 20 December.

During the visit, the two heads of state discussed a broad range of issues linked to the state of bilateral relations and prospects for their development, with a view to ensuring that Algerian-French relations match the two countries’ potential and the expectations of the Algerian and French people.

With due regard for the tradition of consultation between the two countries, Presidents Bouteflika and Hollande reviewed current regional and international issues and noted broad agreement on them.

The two presidents instructed their ministers of foreign affairs to step up their contacts and their consultation in order to enrich the bilateral relationship and identify, as far as possible, points of agreement on issues of common interest.

At the end of the visit, 50 years after Algeria’s independence, the two countries’ presidents set the political course for a strong and improved bilateral relationship, in the Algiers Declaration on friendship and cooperation between France and Algeria.

Both parties welcome the signature, during President François Hollande’s visit, of the following documents and agreements:

- A framework document on partnership;

- A statement on the exchange of ratification and approval instruments for the defence cooperation agreement;

- A memorandum on financial cooperation;

- An agreement on partnership and cooperation in the fields of agriculture, rural development and the food industry;

- A joint declaration on an industry and production partnership;

- An administrative arrangement relating to cooperation on civil defence and security. (…)

Human dimension

The practical conditions for the movement of Algerians in France and French people in Algeria will be improved through sustained and regular dialogue, the conclusions of which will be recorded in a joint document.

The efforts made by both parties to facilitate mutual assistance in the field of criminal justice will continue.

Both parties share the same desire to resolve cases of displaced children of mixed-nationality couples, in the formal framework of a working group set up for the purpose.

The difficulties which certain French nationals who legally own property in Algeria face in exercising their right of ownership will be addressed by a working group whose mission will be to find appropriate solutions, with due regard for the legislation in force.

Both parties agree to make the necessary efforts and put all the required facilities in place to strengthen the proper functioning of Algeria’s diplomatic and consular services in France and of France’s in Algeria.

Both parties agree on the efforts to be made to facilitate the presentation of dossiers by the victims of the French nuclear tests in the Sahara or their beneficiaries, with a view to their possible compensation. Both parties agree to establish a discussion mechanism on the subject.

Both parties express their willingness to facilitate research and the exchange of information leading to the discovery of the burial sites of Algerian and French people who disappeared during the war of independence.

Both parties will continue the discussions initiated with a view to definitively writing off duly justified debts to French hospitals and convening the joint committee on social security.

Regarding Algerian pensioners, a working group will be set up to look into appropriate solutions. (…)

Economic partnership

Momentum will be injected into the bilateral economic relationship and it will be regularly monitored by a joint committee in order to identify, together, ways of moving forward on the different aspects of this relationship, in the two countries’ interests. The practicalities of this partnership will be defined in a specific agreement.

Building on the joint declaration on the industry and production partnership, signed on 19 December, the development of French investment in Algeria and Algerian investment in France will be supported, with a view to balancing interests and sharing profits. To this end, both parties welcome the conclusion of several partnership agreements and in particular the signature of the agreement between the Entreprise Nationale des Véhicules Industriels [Algerian company] and Renault, which will enable the automotive industry in Algeria to be promoted.

Both parties emphasize the need to stimulate cooperation in the energy field, whether it be hydrocarbons, the development of the civil nuclear industry in Algeria or the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Security cooperation

The bilateral agreement on defence cooperation will come into force in February 2013 and will create promising prospects for a dynamic relationship in this important sector.

The administrative arrangement on civil defence between the two interior ministries will provide a boost to this aspect of cooperation between the two countries.

Both parties welcome the constructive, calm atmosphere of the dialogue between the two countries in the various areas of their relationship. They are determined to do everything to further continue and intensify this dialogue, in order for their strategic partnership to be reflected in their nationals’ wellbeing./.

Published on 22/01/2013

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