On Friday, March 24, 2023, French President Emmanuel Macron and Algerian Abdelmadjid Tebboune officially turned the page on the recent diplomatic crisis between their two countries, affirming their desire to continue “strengthening bilateral cooperation.”
During a phone call, the two presidents removed the “misunderstanding” related to the dispute over French-Algerian activist Amira Bouraoui and “agreed to strengthen channels of communication … to prevent the recurrence of this kind of unfortunate misunderstanding,” according to the French presidency in a statement.
The Algerian presidency issued a statement identical to the French statement.
Despite a decision banning her from leaving Algeria, Bouraoui entered Tunisia on February 3, before Tunisian security stopped her while she was trying to board a flight to Paris.
She was finally able to travel to France on February 6, despite the Tunisian authorities’ attempt to deport her to Algeria.
Algeria considered that its arrival in France constitutes a “secret and illegal evacuation” that was carried out with the help of French diplomats and security personnel, and summoned its ambassador to Paris, Saeed Moussa, for consultations.
The Elysee stated in its statement, “President Abdelmadjid Tebboune informed the head of state of the return of the Algerian ambassador to France in the coming days,” confirming a statement to this effect made by Tebboune this week.
And Amira Bouraoui, a 46-year-old doctor, was known in 2014 for her participation in the “Barakat” movement against the late President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s candidacy for a fourth term.
She was imprisoned in 2020 on several charges and then released on July 2, 2020. She faces a two-year prison sentence for “insulting” Islam due to comments she made on her Facebook page.
State visit to France
After a sudden deterioration in relations in the fall of 2021, Paris and Algeria worked to improve their relations during the visit of the French President last August to Algeria, where he signed a joint declaration with Tebboune to advance bilateral cooperation before the estrangement was renewed.
According to the Elysee, the two presidents “talked about bilateral relations and the implementation of the Algiers Declaration signed during the President of the Republic’s visit to Algeria in August. They stressed the need to strengthen cooperation between the two countries in all fields on the horizon of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s state visit to France.”
It is expected that the Algerian president will visit France in May, which is an important step in an attempt to bring the two countries closer together, which share very strong human and historical ties, most notably colonialism, the war of independence and Algerian immigration to France.
This desire to revive relations falls within the context of major diplomatic maneuvers between France, Algeria and Morocco, Algeria’s regional rival, which also maintains close relations with Paris and does not appreciate its desire for rapprochement with Algeria.
France’s end to restrictions on the number of visas for citizens of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco in December signaled a new era in diplomatic relations, but were marred by the Bouraoui case.
The French presidency concluded, “The two presidents also discussed issues of regional stability, especially combating terrorism in the Sahel region.”
Algeria plays an important role in the Sahel and Sahara region, whose countries (Mali, Niger, Mauritania, and Burkina Faso) face very active jihadist groups and where France deploys a significant military force.