French President Emmanuel Macron has responded strongly to Algeria's claims of an apology for the French colonisation of the North African country. In an interview with Algerian writer Kamel Daoud for the magazine Le Point, the French leader put the matter to rest with a blunt: "I don't have to apologise".
Emmanuel Macron said he would not apologise to Algerians for the colonisation of his country, during the interview with Le Point. "I don't have to apologise. That's not the point, this word (apologise) would break all ties, I will not apologise to Algeria," the French president explained. Emmanuel Macron also argued that the worst thing would be to apologise and then go his own way.
L'écrivain et chroniqueur au Point, @daoud_kamel, a su convaincre le président français @EmmanuelMacron de se confier à lui sur la complexe et passionnelle relation entre la France et l'Algérie.— Le Point (@LePoint) January 11, 2023
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Macron stressed that "the work of memory and history is not an abstract calculation. It is the opposite. The work of memory and history is to recognise that there are things that cannot be described, things that cannot be understood, things that cannot be proven, things that cannot be forgiven". Thus, Emmanuel Macron referred to the fact that historical and memory studies are not like taking stock and explained that they are "misunderstood and undecided". "The past that separates us also unites us," said the French president, adding that Algeria and France cannot go their own way by distancing themselves and ignoring each other.
On the episode concerning his visit to Algeria in August and the messages of "Long live Algeria" that were hurled as he greeted the crowd gathered in Oran, Macron indicated that the people were "warm" in their reception and that they welcomed him and his entourage; but he also pointed out that some ideologised people mingled among the attendees to launch their slogans, some of them even insulting.
Emmanuel Macron explained that the general population is pleased with him, but noted that the radicals tried to manipulate the official visit in favour of their own interests.
The call for France to apologise for its colonial past in Algeria (1830-1962) is at the heart of bilateral relations between the two nations and recurrent tensions between the two countries, as various media and experts have pointed out. And the issue is once again topical with the latest interview with the French president.
Emmanuel Macron also referred to the report commissioned from the French-Algerian historian Benjamin Stora on the history of France's colonisation of Algeria. Algeria received with great disappointment Stora's work, commissioned by Macron, which called for a series of initiatives to achieve reconciliation between the two countries. But the report did not contain any recommendations for an apology or remorse, unlike what Algeria has always called for.
Benjamin Stora's brief was to produce a detailed account of all the actions committed in the war of decolonisation between Algeria and France, with one common denominator: "To contribute to the calming of the spirits of all those whom the war annihilated in both France and Algeria". Stora did his job, and it has been two years since he delivered his report to Macron, which was not well received by the Algerian authorities, who continue to demand remembrance and reparations. This immobile position could be interpreted as an interest or desire on the part of the leaders of the Maghreb country to continue to keep the wounds of the past open while France continues to be reminded of its 'guilt' for its past as a colonising metropolis. This would not be conducive to re-establishing better ties between the two nations.