Spotlight: Colonial memory haunts France's Macron's visit to Algeria

Source: Xinhua| 2017-12-06 20:58:16|Editor: pengying
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ALGIERS, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday paid a one-day visit to Algeria to boost bilateral relations and reinforce security cooperation, while the memory of the colonial past of France in the North African nation was again under the spotlight.

It is Macron's first visit to the North African country since he took office seven months ago. His visit to Algeria had been scheduled in September but was postponed.

During his short stay in the capital Algiers, Macron was accompanied by his Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Minister of Public Action and Accounts Gerard Darmanin, as well as some parliamentary members and artists.

Macron is expected to meet with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and other Algerian officials to discuss issues including assessing bilateral political dialogue and economic cooperation.

Security and anti-terror cooperation, in addition to the regional situation, will also be on the agenda.

So far, Algiers and Paris have failed to normalize their long-standing bilateral relations, as the two countries are still unable to overcome the "painful" past, or the 132-year French colonization in the North Africa nation.

In Algeria, it is understood that the relations with France could reach normalization only when Paris recognizes the crimes it committed during the colonial era, and offers apology to the victims of the "brutal" colonial rule.

However, Paris is still considering colonialism a bright era which brought "civilization" to other areas. It admits that "some atrocities" were committed, but declined to apologize for them.

Tayeb Zitouni, Algerian minister of Mujahedeen (War Veterans), said last week that it is legitimate for Algeria to demand apologies from France for its colonial crimes.

"We are not against the French, but rather against French colonialism and we will not give up claiming our rights," Zitouni told the local national radio.

"Relations cannot be good without the resolution of the issue of memory," he noted.

The French young president's visit to the North African nation could mark a new era in the bilateral ties between Paris and Algiers, if he recognizes and apologizes for the erstwhile colonial acts.

Macron, 39, visited Algiers on Feb. 13 as part of his election campaign to presidency, when he told reporters that French colonization was a "crime against humanity."

Although his statement was welcomed in Algeria, it provoked indignation in the political arena in France.

However, the new French president recently made contradictory statements, as he told French Trace TV channel that there will be neither "recognition" nor "repentance" for French colonialism in the African continent.