Algeria’s president on Sunday demanded France’s “total respect” for his country after increased tensions between the two nations over remarks by his French counterpart.
The return of the Algerian ambassador to France is conditional on the “total respect” for Algeria’s sovereignty, institutions and power, Abdelmadjid Tebboune told local media.
Tebboune said the French side should forget that Algeria was once a French colony.
“Algeria is strong with its army and its proud people, who submit only to God,” he noted.
French President Emmanuel Macron stoked tensions with Algiers, and even Turkey, during a recent meeting with descendants of Algerians who fought on France’s side during Algeria’s war for independence.
As part of France’s persistent efforts to distance itself from its atrocious colonial past, Macron claimed “there was colonization before French colonial rule” in Algeria, alluding to the Ottoman presence in the country between 1514 and 1830.
“The building of Algeria as a nation is a phenomenon worth watching. Was there an Algerian nation before French colonization? That is the question,” he said.
Algeria was swift to strongly condemn the remarks, going on to recall its ambassador and closing its airspace to French military planes.
- French colonialism in Algeria
Algeria represents the most recent and bloodiest example of France’s colonial history on the African continent.
Approximately 1.5 million Algerians were killed and millions more displaced in an eight-year struggle for independence that started in 1954.
France has also committed a cultural genocide against Algeria since 1830, destroying Algeria’s 300-year-old Ottoman history and its own local identity and also transforming many cultural and religious monuments in the country.
Paris has never officially apologized to Algeria as a state for its colonial policies.
*Writing by Zehra Nur Duz in Ankara