The Algerian ambassador to France, Said Moussi, returned to his office in Paris on Wednesday 29 March, 50 days after his summons to Algiers for consultations. He was convocated following the case of the Franco-Algerian opposition member Amira Bouraoui, whose arrival in France by way of Tunisia provoked a diplomatic crisis between the two countries.
The return of the Algerian diplomat to his post is the second sign of the beginning of a thaw in relations between Paris and Algiers after the telephone exchange on Friday 24 March between presidents Emmanuel Macron and Abdelmadjid Tebboune. While they have not spoken since the beginning of the crisis, the two leaders reopened the lines of communication to sort out the circumstances of the arrival in France of the 46-year-old gynaecologist, and to revive relations that Tebboune had once described as “in flux.”
This resumption of duties should enable contact to be resumed at all levels between French and Algerian officials, after a virtual breakdown following the crisis. The French authorities are now waiting for the Algerian government to lift the suspension of the delivery of consular passes, a measure taken in the wake of the recall of Said Moussi. These documents, issued by Algerian consulates in France, are essential for the deportation of Algerian nationals who have been expelled from French territory.
On Wednesday 22 March, Paris appointed Stéphane Romatet as French ambassador to Algeria to replace François Gouyette, whose mission expires at the end of July. Romatet, currently France’s chief diplomat in Egypt, is currently also Director of the Crisis and Support Centre at the Quai d’Orsay.
Tebboune’s visit relying on French events
In the coming days, the two parties are also expected to resume contact in preparation of the state visit of Tebboune to France, scheduled for 2 and 3 May, even if these dates are not yet officially confirmed by Paris and Algiers.
If the prospect of this visit was mentioned during the telephone exchange between Macron and Tebboune, its assurance of the agreed dates depends on several parameters. There remains almost a month for the two parties to formalise details of this state visit, complete with ceremonial protocol. Will that be enough to complete everything? Possibly.
The maintenance of the visit on the planned dates also depends, in part, on the ongoing popular mobilisation against Macron’s pension reform project, complete with strikes and demonstrations that have brought together tens of thousands of people in Paris and many other major cities since the start of February. If this popular protest continues through May, it could complicate things between Paris and Algiers, as it did with the new King of England’s recently postponed visit at the Elysée Palace’s request.
To receive the Algerian Head of State, Paris has planned a parade on the Champs-Élysées, as well as a flyover by air force fighters. A solemn tribute to Emir Abdelkader, a figure of Algerian resistance to the French conquest and a prisoner in the Château d’Amboise from 1848 to 1852, is also planned as part of the work of reconciling memories.
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