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Macron says France will not apologize to Algeria for colonialism

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French President Emmanuel Macron said he would not “ask forgiveness” from Algeria for colonialism but hoped to continue working towards reconciliation with his counterpart, Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

“It’s not up to me to ask forgiveness, that’s not what this is about, that word will cut all our bonds,” he said in an interview with Le Point magazine published late Wednesday.

“The worst thing is to decide: + We apologize and everyone goes their own way,” Macron said.

“Working on memory and history is not a settlement of all accounts,” he added.

But in the interview, he also expressed his hope that Tebboune could “come to France in 2023”, to take back Macron’s private trip to Algeria last year and continue the “unprecedented work of friendship”.

France’s 100-year colonization of Algeria and the fierce war between 1954 and 1962 left deep scars on both sides, which in turn prompted Macron to moderate his political career.

In 2017, then-presidential candidate Macron called the French occupation a “crime against humanity.”

A report commissioned by historian Benjamin Stora in 2020 recommended further steps for reconciliation between the two countries while ruling out “repentance” and “apology”.

Macron also questioned whether Algeria existed as a nation before it was colonized by France, prompting an angry response from Algeria.

“These moments of tension teach us,” Macron told Algerian writer Kamel Daoud in the interview.

“You have to be able to reach out again and get involved, which is what President Tebboune and I were able to do,” he added.

He supported a proposal that Tebboune visit the graves of 19th-century Algerian anti-colonial hero Abdelkader and his entourage, who are buried in Amboise, central France.

“It will make sense for the history of the Algerian people. For the French people, it will be an opportunity to understand truths that are often hidden,” Macron said.

Algeria and France maintain lasting relations through emigration, participation in the independence struggle, and post-war repatriations of French settlers, which affect the more than 10 million people living in France today.

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