4 July 2017

Algeria, France to Resume Talks Over Historical Archives Recovery in September

Algiers — Algeria said on Monday it will resume talks with France in September on retrieving its national archives during colonial and precolonial years.

Algerian Minister of Mujahedeen (war-veterans) Tayeb Zitouni told reporters that the statements made by newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron when he was a candidate, were "audacious" and Algeria "awaits concrete steps."

Zitouni was referring to the remarks made by Macron while visiting Algiers in February 2017 that he was willing to discuss the issues related to the 130 years of French colonial rule in Algeria (1830-1962).

"We are tired of French promises since the independence, while nothing concrete has been done," Zitouni said. "It is not about conflict about inches of land; it is rather pending files that should be solved once for all."

In fact, Paris has been reluctant to return to Algeria archives retracing the precolonial and colonial eras. The two countries set up three joint commissions in 2016 in order to accelerate this process, but no progress has been made yet.

However, Zitouni said the joint commissions will meet in September to address several issues, including compensation for victims of nuclear explosions done by France in the Algerian desert, missing people during the colonial era, and recovery of the skulls of Algerian martyrs which are displayed in some museums in Paris.

Algeria is still waiting for a clear recognition by Paris of "the colonial crimes" committed in Algeria during the colonial period. Former French President Francois Hollande acknowledged, during his first official visit to Algiers in December 2013, that "the colonial system was deeply unjust."

This statement was seen by Algeria as a desire by France to improve the strained bilateral relations, but no further progress has been made to address the outstanding issue of the painful past.


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