President Tebboune : Algeria, France must address memory question that jeopardizes bilateral relations

APS : Sunday, 05 July 2020

ALGIERS- President of the Republic Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Saturday said that Algeria and France must address the question of memory which jeopardizes many aspects of the bilateral relations, insisting on peaceful relations between the two countries.

“With President Emmanuel Macron, we have, without any animosity, without hatred and in the mutual full respect from both sides, to address the memory problem that jeopardizes many aspects of the relations between the two countries,” President Tebboune told French TV Channel France 24.

He recalled that “President Macron was courageous enough to say that colonization had been almost a crime against humanity, what others did not.
Algeria has already received quasi-apology” from Eammnuel Macron,” he added.

Speaking about the repatriation of the skulls of Algerian resistance fighters against colonial France, President Tebboune said that Macron was “very receptive of the Algerian request”, stressing that “this repatriation was a necessity for Algeria which attaches great importance to the question of Memory”.
The Head of the State announced that an Algerian television channel, exclusively dedicated to memory, will be created and a National Day of Memory has been instituted.

For the president, we need now to “move towards” appeasement, since in France “we refer to the ‘massacres’ of 8 May 1945 in Algeria. This was prohibited before.”
On a question of seeing Emmanuel Macron and France apologize to the Algerian people, Tebboune replied: “We hope for it because it will provide for an appeasement of the climate and make it more peaceful for “more serene” economic, political, cultural and neighborhood relations

“With President Macron, we can achieve a lot, go a long way toward appeasement, settling issues pertaining to memorials and memory. He is a very honest person, he wants to appease the situation – of course, upholding French interests, and all the while, make it possible for our relations to become natural once again, natural relations between two independent countries,” he said.

For President Tebboune, it is also about “relations between two independent and sovereign countries,” observing however that “Algeria which
was a former colony of France, 58 years ago, is now a state which influences its environment, a pivotal state whose word counts in the international concert.”
The president of the Republic added that Algeria and France, “contacts have never been broken since 1962,” stressing that “the two countries have had
sometimes higher-level relationships.

Regarding a possible visit to Paris or that of President Macron in Algiers, the President of the Republic indicated that this is not excluded, stating that he has already discussed it with his French counterpart.
“If there is a visit, it would be a State visit, not a working visit under the circumstances imposed by the Covid-19,” he added.

—-Revision of Constitution: Referendum in September —-

Speaking on the country’s internal situation, notably the constitutional revision, President Tebboune said that the country’s constitution was expected to be submitted to a popular referendum last June, but the Coronavirus pandemic has turned everything upside down.
“I think that if the Coronavirus pandemic subsides, we can go to a referendum in early the school year, in September or October,” he announced.

However, President Tebboune said that discussions on the Constitution are speeding up, saying that 2,000 proposals, changes, removal of articles or extension and addition were submitted to the Committee of Experts on the Revision of the Constitution.
Asked about the type of regime that will be adopted, President Tebboune said that “the model (of regime) will be completely Algerian,” explaining that it will be “a semi-presidential regime which would give tremendous authority to elected officials.”

On a question about whether former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika would be put on trial as part of the trials of former Prime Ministers and ministers, Tebboune said that “justice has decided” on this subject.

“If justice requires it (Bouteflika’s judgment), it is up to it, but it’s not on the agenda.”

As for the 5th aborted mandate of ex-President Bouteflika, he also wanted to be crystal clear by saying: “I have never backed the 5th term.”

He recalled that he was “forced” out from the post of Prime Minister in 2017, when “the idea of the 5th term began in 2018.”
“At the time, I was at home and in no case I was in favor of the 5th term.

I found that the 5th term was absurd because as a Prime Minister I was in contact with him and I saw he couldn’t speak well at the time. He was not asked for my opinion (on the 5th term), I was excluded, “he said.

—- President Tebboune rules out possible recourse to IMF —-

Addressing the economic aspect and the possible recourse to the IMF, President Tebboune assured that “Algeria is not at all in danger”.
“Algeria has foreign exchange reserves which are not huge, but which allow it to operate from one year to two years,” he said, noting that “agriculture alone produced worth 25 billion dollars in 2019 and that was a chance for the country facing fall in oil prices because we are almost self-sufficient in food.”

In this regard, he said that Algeria “prefers to avoid the IMF” because it is “a socially-focused country where social transfers are made in huge sums”.
“I exclude the option of going to the IMF, of course, but we are in regular contact with this Fund and we take its guidelines into account.”
Regarding the Libyan crisis, President Tebboune reaffirmed “the need to achieve a ceasefire that will allow the reconstruction of the Libyan state on the basis of popular legitimacy…”.

Regarding the reports of the construction by Algeria of a military base in reaction to Morocco which is allegedly planning to build a similar base on its borders with Algeria, President Tebboune said he could “neither confirm, nor deny this information, “stressing that” wisdom has always prevailed in relations between the two countries “.

“So far the escalation has been verbal and I hope it will stop. We wish the Moroccan people the greatest happiness. We have no problem with the Moroccans, but they are the ones who have problems with us. ”
Concerning the epidemiological situation in the country, President Tebboune said a hardening of lockdown measures is possible, if the Scientific commission responsible for monitoring the evolution of the Coronavirus will recommend it.

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