[QODLink]
Inside Story

Can Algeria and France forget the past?

We ask how, with Francois Hollande refusing to say sorry for French occupation, can ties with Algeria improve.
Last Modified: 21 Dec 2012 09:31

Francois Hollande, the French president, described his country's century of colonial rule in Algeria as "brutal and unjust", but told the Algerian parliament that he will not apologise for France's colonial past.

He was addressing Algeria's parliament to mark the North African country's 50 years of independence, as well as to boost diplomatic and economic ties.

"In the case of French-Algerian relations it is easy to turn the page of history of colonialism but it would be impossible to erase that history … Any president, for the next 10-15 years would be very frightened to do anything else. Once the generations who fought the war on both sides disappear or at least become the minority, that's when we could reconcile ourselves with that page of history."

- Saad Djebbar, an international lawyer

Like his predecessors, Hollande refused to explicitly apologise for acts committed during the French occupation of Algeria.

But he did acknowledge the suffering it caused, saying: "I recognise the sufferings here that colonisation inflicted on the Algerian people. Amongst these sufferings there were the massacres of Guelma and other places of Algeria, and these are on the minds of the Algerian people but also the French people."

So if Hollande will not apologise, how can he build future ties with Algeria? And what does it mean for France's policies across North Africa?

Inside Story asks: Can Algeria and France build better ties?

For the discussion presenter Stephen Cole is joined by guests: Emmanuel Dupuy, the president of the Institute of Prospective and European Security; Saad Djebbar, an international lawyer and political analyst; Nabila Ramdani, a political commentator.

'The Algerian government showed a real appreciation for Hollande's words … he used very strong and dramatic rhetoric, he spoke of turning a page, he criticised the colonisation for being an unfair and brutal system, he specifically acknowledged the suffering inflicted and also highlighted the massacres of Setif, Guelma and Kherrata."

Nabila Ramdani, a political commentator


Franco-Algerian relations:

  • The French colonisation of Algeria began in 1830 with the conquest of Algiers
  • The colonial period would last well over 100 years, before the Algerian National Liberation Front launched a revolt in 1954
  • After eight years of war, Algeria gained independence in 1962. Algeria says an estimated one million people died during the war
  • In 1975, Valery Giscard d'Estaing became the first French president to visit independent Algeria
  • But it was not until 1999 that France recognised its earlier conflict with Algeria as a war. Before that France described it as an operation to "maintain order" in Algeria
  • And in 2007, then newly-elected French President Nicolas Sarkozy defended his refusal to apologise for France's colonial history, saying leaders should focus on the future

523

Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.
join our mailing list