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Algeria recalls ambassador from France amid tensions

October 3, 2021

Algeria slammed "irresponsible" remarks that were reportedly made by French President Emmanuel Macron about the Algerian "political-military system."

French and Algerian flag
France has said it would reduce the number of visas it issues for Algerian nationals by half Image: Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images

Algeria has recalled its ambassador from France for consultations, the presidency said on Saturday.

The move came after what Algeria described as "irresponsible" comments attributed to French President Emmanuel Macron on Algerian politics and history.

Tensions between Algiers and Paris are rising following Paris's decision to reduce the number of visas granted to Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian nationals.

What did Algeria say?

"Following remarks that have not been denied, which several French sources have attributed by name to [Macron], Algeria expresses its categorical rejection of the inadmissible interference in its internal affairs," the presidency said in a statement.

"Faced with the particularly inadmissible situation inflicted by these irresponsible remarks, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune decided to immediately recall the ambassador," it said.

The statement added that the remarks were harmful to Algerian martyrs who fought for independence from France in 1962.

The Algerian presidency went on to slam France's "countless colonial crimes in Algeria that correspond to genocide and [crimes] against humanity." It added that these crimes "should not be the subject of manipulation of facts and interpretations that lessen their ugliness."

What were Macron's remarks?

French daily Le Monde on Saturday quoted Macron as saying Algeria was ruled by a "political-military system."

According to Le Monde, Macron said the former French colony has an "official history" which has been "totally re-written."

He said this history was "not based on truths" but "on a discourse of hatred toward France." 

Macron's remarks were widely picked up by Algerian media.

What is the migration row?

Earlier this week, the government said it had summoned the French ambassador to Algiers in response to Paris' slashing of visas.

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal told Europe 1 radio on Tuesday that France would halve the number of visas available to nationals from Algeria and Morocco, and reduce those for Tunisians by almost a third.

France said the decision was in response to Maghreb governments' refusal to take back illegal migrants sent home by Paris.

"It's a drastic decision, and unprecedented, but one made necessary by the fact that these countries are refusing to take back nationals who we do not want or cannot keep in France," Attal said.

Algeria's Foreign Ministry described the move as a "unilateral decision of the French government," and called it an "unfortunate act" that caused "confusion and ambiguity as to its motivation and its scope."

The ministry handed "a formal protest" to French ambassador Francois Gouyette.

Saturday's move marked the second time that Algiers recalled an ambassador from France.

In May 2020, the country recalled its ambassador after French media broadcast a documentary about Algeria's pro-democracy Hirak protest movement.

mvb/fb (AFP, Reuters)