In an interview with the French media Le Figaro, the former French ambassador to Algiers, Xavier Driencourt, returned to the memory issues between Algeria and France and discussed various subjects such as Hirak and immigration. Subjects that he had also treated in his book “The Algerian enigma”through which he retraces his career as a diplomat.
Asked about the memory file, the French diplomat, author of the book “The Algerian Enigma, Chronicles of an Embassy in Algiers”Xavier Driencourt, considered that “for France, Algeria was a foreign political object, as could be Ukraine or China”, noting, however, that “it was also an object of internal policy, taking into account the importance of the French population having a link with Algeria”.
During this interview, available in audio in the section VOX of the same media, Xavier Driencourt referred to the “ambiguous and contradictory” statements of the French President, Emmanuel Macron, concerning the memory file and did not fail to underline that “the objective of the French President was to reactivate the project of “treaty of friendship” between the two countries”, but also “to normalize relations with Algiers”.
“He relied on the work of Benjamin Stora, and began with this thunderous evocation of “crimes against humanitySupposedly perpetrated by France in February 2017, when he was still only a candidate for the Élysée. But over the statements, he realized that he was not getting any “return“on the part of his interlocutors”, explained the former ambassador.
Thus, the French diplomat justified the statements of Emmanuel Macron, in particular that on “the memorial rent exploited by Algeria” by “the absence of a respondent” on the Algerian side. Indeed, Xavier Driencourt recalled that “after the publication of historian Benjamin Stora’s report in January 2021, his Algerian counterpart in charge of memorial issues, Abdelmadjid Chikhi, declared that it was a Franco-French problem. French without further comment.
“We need a stable Algeria in the decades to come”, Driencourt
On another level, the French diplomat spoke about the evolution of the Algerian political system since the popular movement of Hirak. According to him, “the Hirak represented a real desire for change after 20 years of Bouteflika”. The French diplomat also considered that “other movements, progressives, convent”, adding that “this question is central, especially for France”. “We need a stable Algeria in the decades to come, which does not mean an Algeria frozen in the status quo”said again Xavier Driencourt.
In addition, the former French ambassador in Algiers returned to the large number of requests to obtain visas to France and explained that this attachment came down to the fact that many Algerians had relatives on the other side of the Mediterranean. “For the Algerians, France is the former colonizer that we criticize, but it is also the neighboring country where everyone has a brother, a grandmother, a cousin… While criticizing, we are led to ask who, a visa, which means a place at the French high school in Algiers or at the Sorbonne…”, explained the French diplomat.
Xavier Driencourt noted that this attachment “lasts despite the economic distance between the two countries”, revealing, in the same sense, that “French companies supplied 16% of the Algerian market in 2008, whereas they only supply 10 % today “. “Algerian decision-makers have turned massively to Italy, Spain, Germany and of course Turkey and China. But when it comes to health or education, the French reflex largely prevails, out of convenience.he explained.