President Macron is to visit Algeria from the 25th to the 27th of August, as part of his general push to strengthen French ties to African states. Apart from concern with maintaining and expanding French influence in former African French territories, however, the visit highlights the importance of Algeria as an energy supplier for the EU as the latter pivots away from Russian gas. The French president will apparently be discussing the issue with his counterpart.
Franco-Algerian relations have been tense, with Macron’s geopolitical ambitions finding themselves inhibited in this theatre.
In 2021, Algeria recalled its ambassador from France and closed its airspace to the French military operating in Mali. This happened after Macron expressed doubts as to whether Algeria existed as a nation prior to French colonisation, and voiced frustration at how Algerian history is taught, with its emphasis on the negative aspects of French occupation. He also caused offence by describing the Algerian power structure as a government-military system.
Comments like this, and Macron’s honouring of Algerian veterans who fought on the French side during the war that led to Algerian independence, have alienated the North African country.
What continues to be largely ineffectual are Macron’s efforts to bring about some peaceful resolution from the offences of the past. Macron has asked that French historians investigate crimes committed against the Algerian population during the colonial period, and the following war, as part of what he has referred to as a “reconciliation of narratives.”
It remains to be seen whether the upcoming visit will contribute to a long-term improvement and stabilisation of relations between the two countries, as well as whether, in the short-term, and as a more pressing matter, France will secure favourable terms for its energy supply.