Algerian Ambassador to Paris returns as bilateral tensions ease

The Algerian ambassador to Paris, who was recalled in October "for consultations" after statements by French President Emmanuel Macron deemed offensive by Algiers, will resume his duties on Thursday, January 6, 2022, the Algerian presidency announced.

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Algeria’s Ambassador to Paris, Mohamed Antar Daoud, resumes his duties in the French capital, three months after the diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

“The President of the Republic, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, received on Wednesday the Algerian ambassador to France, Mohamed Antar Daoud, who will resume his functions in Paris from this Thursday, January 6, 2022”, specified the Algerian presidency in a press release.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s accusatory statements against Algeria in the Le Monde newspaper on October 2 have escalated the tension between the two countries.

Stating that “a military-political system prevails in Algeria and the official history of the country has been completely rewritten, not based on facts but built on hostility towards France,” Macron also stated, “The construction of Algeria as a nation is a phenomenon to be watched. Was there an Algerian nation first? That is the question. There were colonies in Algeria before. I was fascinated by the fact that Turkey was able to completely forget the role it played in Algeria once the domination was established, and it is great to explain that we are the only colonizers. Algerians believe that.”

Thereupon, in a written statement from the Algerian Presidency, Macron’s statements were described and condemned as “an unacceptable insult to the memory of more than five million martyrs who resisted French colonialism.”

Furthermore, it was reported that Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune immediately recalled Mohammed Anter Daoud, the ambassador of his country to Paris, for consultations. It was also announced that Algeria had closed its airspace to French military aircraft.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune had even refused to honor an invitation from his French counterpart to participate in the international conference on Libya, held in Paris on November 12.

At the beginning of December, the head of French diplomacy paid a visit to Algeria in order to defuse this bilateral crisis of rare gravity. Jean-Yves Le Drian then called for a “peaceful relationship” so that the two countries “can look to the future”. However, no agreement was obtained during this visit for, for example, the resumption of the overflight of Algerian airspace.

The French government welcomed the return of Algeria’s ambassador to Paris on Thursday, following a three-month diplomatic crisis between the two countries. “He (the Algerian ambassador) is coming back, yes, that’s good news,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday to the French media.

“We have had some misunderstandings with the Algerians in recent months, it has already happened, there have always been difficulties at one time or another, but we have always been able to resolve them”, he said.

Jean-Yves Le Drian mentioned, in this sense, “a desire to relaunch the partnership between the two countries”. He added, “I was received at length by President Tebboune on December 8. We are in a desire to relaunch the partnership with Algeria, we have a common history made up of complexity and suffering, we must go beyond that and resume together with the path of discussions.”

Relations also experienced other tensions in 2021. Previously, in April 2021, French Prime Minister Jean Castex canceled his planned visit to Algeria, citing that “meetings would not be productive” due to COVID-19.

The reluctance of Paris to confront its colonial history disturbed Algeria, and harsh statements were made.

The Algerian Chief of Staff, General Said Chengriha, had called on France to hand over maps of the nuclear test sites carried out in his country’s desert in the 1960s to be cleared of radiation.

Likewise, Algeria’s former Minister of Labor and Social Affairs used the phrase “our eternal and traditional enemy” against  France in the session he attended in parliament.

Relations between Paris and Algiers have often been known for their turbulence. In terms of the tension between Algeria and France, 2021 was the year that reached its peak. The last such serious crisis dated back to February 23, 2005, when the French Parliament adopted a law recognizing a “positive role of colonization.”

Musab Yilmaz

Musab Yılmaz is a North African Studies Research Assistant. He graduated from Galatasaray University, with a degree in Political Science. He is currently an MA student at Ibn Haldun University, in the Department of Political Science and International Relations. He conducts research on Northern and Sub-Saharan African countries, especially in Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco.

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