Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Algeria: French want a fresh start

Jean-Pierre Raffarin travelled to Algiers on 24th November as part of attempts by the French government to re-launch relations with their former colony. The former prime minister, who is in charge of managing relations with Algeria, has been asked by President Nicolas Sarkozy to draw a line under the troubled relationship of recent years, which has been marked by disputes over a number of high-profile issues.

These include the aviation security measures targeting Algerian travellers to France, and handling the legacy of France's colonial role in the country, as well as major differences of opinion over the handling of counter-terrorism strategy in the Sahel. France has also refused to bow to Algerian demands for a full apology for its actions during the colonial period. As a result, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has repeatedly put off making an official visit to France, and some French officials have been put on a 'black list' by the Algerian government, effectively barring them from entry into the country. Among the least popular was former foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, who lost his job in Sarkozy's recent reshuffle.

In particular, Raffarin hopes to make progress on the economic dossier, boosting French investments in Algeria. Although France has historically been the economic partner of choice for the Algerians, investors such as Alstom have run into difficulties recently. Renault, which has been hoping to set up a car plant in the country, has been bogged down in negotiations with the government.

For more news and expert analysis about Algeria please see Algeria Focus and Algeria Politics & Security.

© 2010 Menas Associates

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