Paris It is a symbol of friendship – and of business interests. The first foreign visit after the summer holidays leads the French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday after Algeria. He has reserved three days for the trip. Like the other countries in the Maghreb, Algeria plays for France still a big role. Not only because of French history, but also in economic terms.
The visit is initially about improving the relationship between the countries. On Macron’s agenda, the trip is listed as an “official visit and visit of friendship.”
As recently as October last year, the French President had struck less friendly tones. Algeria has been resting on French colonial rule from 1830 to 1962 since independence, he criticized. The Algerian government would use history to advance political interests, especially vis-à-vis France.
“Was there an Algerian nation before French colonization? That is the question,” the French President reportedly said. An affront to Algeria, which recalled its ambassador from France for three months. In addition, France had announced that it would reduce the number of visas granted to Algerians by 50 percent. The reason given by the French government was that Algeria had not been cooperative in taking back illegal immigrants.
gesture of reconciliation
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Algeria is still awaiting an apology from Macron for his comments. The French President’s trip, 60 years after the former colony gained independence, is nevertheless seen as a gesture of reconciliation. It is his second state visit to the North African country. Most recently, however, he was only in the country for a few hours in December 2017.
Algeria aims more energy after Europe deliver
Good contacts with Algeria are important for France, especially from an economic point of view. Strengthening economic and energy relations between the countries is high on the agenda during the visit. France is Algeria’s second most important trading partner after China, supplying 10.6 percent of all Algerian imports. France’s Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire is expected to attend the trip, as well as a group of French entrepreneurs including telecoms mogul Xavier Niel. Also representatives of the French energy suppliers like engineering should be present.
In the future, the country will become an important energy supplier for the whole of Europe. Algeria is one of the world’s largest producers of natural gas and also has large oil reserves. In the future, Algeria could also be a transit country for a gas pipeline from Africa to Europe. The country’s importance in the energy sector has increased further as a result of the Ukraine war: In July, corporations from Italy, France, the USA and Algeria signed an agreement for joint production of fossil fuels for 25 years.
However, this requires an expansion of the infrastructure. This would mean more investment in the country for Europe and additional income for Algeria.
However, additional funds would strengthen the current authoritarian regime in Algeria, which is repeatedly criticized for massive human rights violations. For France and Europe, however, it seems to have a higher priority for the time being to develop new energy sources.