France and Algeria: a chance for reconciliation?
French President Emmanuel Macron has received a report commissioned by the French government and compiled by historian Benjamin Stora. It contains proposals for improving relations between former colonial power France and Algeria, which remain tense 60 years after the Algerian War of Independence. Media from both countries see this as an important opportunity that must be seized.
Cleverly designed guidelines
Macron should read the report carefully, Le Monde advises:
“The text is cautious because it brushes aside the inevitable question of 'repentance' and focuses instead on 'acknowledging' specific events. ... And it is ambitious because it proposes to return archives to Algeria, to clarify the murder of Europeans in Oran in July 1962, to systematically identify those who went missing in the war on both sides, and to work together with the Algerians on the contamination that resulted from the nuclear tests that France carried out in the Sahara until 1966. The key recommendation is the establishment of a 'Truth and Memory Commission' made up of representatives from politics and civil society from both countries, which is to initiate joint commemoration initiatives. The president must make every effort to adopt and implement the initiative.”
Algeria needs to take a look in the mirror
The Algerians also need to reassess their past, says Liberté, which is based in Algiers:
“Beyond all the 'practical' suggestions about how to solve this question of commemoration, we cannot lose sight of the how important it is to sweep one's own doorstep. ... And we should put an end to the vulgar commercial use of history, which often resembles an exploitation of weakness and which uses false patriotic arguments. ... In expectation of a new calm in these turbulent relations, we can now hold out real hope for genuine appeasement.”