• France edition
 
Hollande: I'm not here to say sorry
President François Hollande and partner Valérie Trierweiler meet Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in the People's Palace, Algiers, on Wednesday. Photo: Philippe Wojazer/AFP

Hollande: I'm not here to say sorry

Published: 20 Dec 2012 09:39 GMT+01:00
Updated: 20 Dec 2012 09:39 GMT+01:00

"I have not come here... to offer repentance or apologies. I have come to say what is true," Hollande told a news conference on the first day of his trip to the former French colony.

Responding to a question about Algerian demands for French contrition, Hollande said it was important to recognise the truth about France's colonial past and the tragedies that occurred during the 1954-62 war of independence.

But there must also be a "willingness not to let the past block us but on the contrary to work for the future. Once it has been recognised, the past must allow us to go much faster and much further."

He said he would deliver the same message to Algerian MPs when he addresses parliament on Thursday morning.   

Hollande was received with full honours by his Algerian counterpart Abdelaziz Bouteflika as he got off the plane, and a large crowd cheered them as their convoy passed along the capital's historic corniche.

Hollande invited Bouteflika to pay a state visit to France, and called for a "strategic partnership between equals."

But before the visit, 10 political parties including four Islamist groups denounced the refusal of France "to recognise, apologise for and compensate" the crimes committed during 132 years of French colonial rule.

And the popular French-language newspaper El-Watan, in an editorial on Wednesday, called for French recognition of "the colonial past and crimes of colonisation," saying such a move would "soothe memories that are still painful."

The socialist president, who is accompanied by a 200-strong delegation including nine government ministers and around 40 business leaders, is visiting Algeria after a period of lukewarm ties under his rightwing predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.

His two-day trip to the energy-rich north African country also comes at a time when the French economy is sorely in need of a boost.

Hollande and Bouteflika signed a declaration of friendship and cooperation late on Wednesday.

Another document will detail a five-year work programme in the economic, financial, cultural, agricultural and defence sectors.

Projects to benefit include the construction of a factory by vehicle manufacturer Renault, the operations of French cement group Lafarge and the teaching of French in Algerian schools.

The president said the deal signed for the Renault factory near the western city of Oran is likely to result in assembly of at least 25,000 vehicles a year starting in 2014.

The two countries are bound together by human, economic and cultural ties.

More than half a million Algerians live in France, and hundreds of thousands of others hold French nationality, but many are also frustrated at not being able to obtain visas and seek a better life in Europe.

A poll published by Algerian daily Liberte said 57 percent of Algerians were in favour of a special relationship with France.

It also said that 35 percent of French people believe Hollande should "in no circumstances" apologise to Algeria for the colonial past, against 13 percent who think he should.

On the crisis in Mali, Hollande appeared to soften the hawkish French stance, saying there was a convergence of positions between him and Bouteflika, both agreeing on the need for dialogue to restore the country's unity.

But this process must take place "only with the movements or forces that distance themselves from terrorism, that fight against terrorism," he said.

France has been a key Western backer of the planned deployment of a 3,300-strong African intervention force to drive out Islamists who have seized the northern half of Mali, fearing the Sahel region may become a "terrorist" haven.

But Algeria, the regional powerhouse which shares a vast southern border with Mali, is seen as key to any military operation, and Bouteflika has said he favours "a negotiated political solution."

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France 'determined' to drive economic reforms
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls with President Francois Hollande. Photo: AFP

France 'determined' to drive economic reforms

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Friday said Paris was "absolutely determined" to drive economic reforms and that France was not "Europe's sick man". READ  

US: France can do more to fight Ebola
US Ambassador Samantha Power. Photo: AFP

US: France can do more to fight Ebola

Returning from a trip to inspect efforts to fight Ebola in West Africa, US Ambassador Samantha Power said France, Canada and Belgium could do more to help fellow French-speakers in Guinea. READ  

Presented by Home Exchange
Travel & live like a local with Home Exchange
Travel & live like a local with Home Exchange

Travel & live like a local with Home Exchange

Swap your home, save a fortune, and have a great time in the process. The Local finds why thousands of people from around the world have embraced the Home Exchange phenomenon. READ  

QUIZ: Find out how French you've become
So how French do you think you are? Photo: Frenchman: Shutterstock

QUIZ: Find out how French you've become

It's impossible to be an expat in France without turning a little bit French. Take our quiz and find out where you land on the Frenchiness scale. READ  

French try to make surly shopkeepers kinder
Tired of bad customer service in France? Photo: Smiling worker: Shutterstock

French try to make surly shopkeepers kinder

Many Anglos have a dim view of customer service in France, but the French aren't happy either with how some shopkeepers treat them. Now a growing programme is labeling shopkeepers who you can expect to be friendly. READ  

Broadcasts cut as fire ravages French radio HQ
A massive fire cut broadcasting for many of France's public radio stations. Photo: France Bleu

Broadcasts cut as fire ravages French radio HQ

A massive fire ripped through the Paris building that houses studios for some of France's public radio stations, prompted broadcasts to be abruptly cut off. It's unclear what sparked the blaze. READ  

Metro and Train strike set for Tuesday in France
A train and metro strike is set for Tuesday in France. Photo: AFP

Metro and Train strike set for Tuesday in France

Commuters should brace themselves for travel chaos next week, with a train and Metro strike set for Tuesday, according to AFP. But it's not clear yet how big of an industrial action it's going to be. READ  

France tries to collect €10k from fatherless girl
The teenager was told last week that she must pay back €10,000 in just 15 days. Euros: Shutterstock

France tries to collect €10k from fatherless girl

A 13-year-old girl in western France has been told she must pay back the €10,000 that was given to her by the state after her sailor father was killed in an accident. READ  

National Front pulls in 'record membership'
The National Front party has a total of 83,000 members – the highest number in the history of the party. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

National Front pulls in 'record membership'

After a year of unprecedented electoral success, Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigrant, anti-EU National Front party is attracting more members than ever before in the 42-year-old party’s history, French media has reported. READ  

Merah-inspired jihadists 'plot attacks in France'
Both men had been motivated by the actions of Mohamed Merah, a French-Algerian national killed by French police in March 2012 after murdering seven people. Photo: AFP

Merah-inspired jihadists 'plot attacks in France'

Morocco said on Thursday it has arrested two jihadists inspired by French terrorist Mohamed Merah who were planning to attack banks and multinational companies in France and in the North African country. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sponsored Article
Travel and have a great time with Home Exchange
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles from British Airways
National
Eight Halloween events not to miss in Paris
National
10 things to never say to a French person
National
Top 10: When French translations go wrong
National
Parisian bars that serve drinkers free meals
National
France falls to Germans in nude swim tourney
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Nowhere combines sex and art quite like France
National
Why you should never turn down an invitation to a French wedding
Sport
Discover the route of the 2015 Tour de France. There are a few surprises
Gallery
Ten changes that would make learning French so much easier
Culture
IN PICTURES: 'Glass ship' Vuitton ready to set sail in Paris
International
How a giant 'sex toy' earned an American artist a slap in Paris
National
'Unlike in the US the French don't put the blame on the poor'
Gallery
Cover up and don't be too Latin: French travel warnings for the US
Society
Macholand: The online uprising against sexism in France
Gallery
In pictures: The daily life of the 2,000 migrants in Calais
Culture
Erotic promo video earns the Musée d'Orsay our "Only in France" award
International
'I love the UK, but I could die getting there': Struggles of Calais migrants
National
Seven reasons why everyone should work in a bar in France
National
The cost of expat home comforts: How France compares to Europe
International
Why don't Calais migrants stay in France? The Local went to find out
National
What are the pros and cons of working as an au pair in France?
Society
Is France's generous welfare state about to get a little stingier?
Gallery
Extraordinary images of ordinary life in the poor Paris suburbs
Gallery
10 things expats love and loathe about life in France
National
So why don't many women in France breastfeed?
National
'Stop bashing La Belle France' - French PM tells UK press
International
UK warns Brits of 'high threat' from terrorism' in France
National
VIDEO: 'The Kama Sutra is not a dirty little text'
National
What Rome could teach Paris and vice versa
Gallery
What do foreign countries warn their citizens about when visiting France?
Gallery
IN IMAGES: Eiffel Tower opens new glass floor above Paris
Society
Is it really better to grow old in the UK and the US rather than France?
Gallery
It's that time if the year again: French sportsmen reveal (almost) all
Gallery
So what do the French find really weird about Anglos?
Travel
Paris museums to open seven days a week but unions are not happy
Culture
Caption contest: What happened when Jay Z met Sark O?
International
This explains why the French never seem to get a sense of déjà vu?
National
VIDEO: Here's a view from the Eiffel Tower you haven't seen before
Travel
Do Paris's iconic rooftops deserve Unesco World Heritage status?
Opinion
'France cannot reform, the pilots' strike showed us this'
National
'We just don’t work hard enough in France.' Is that true?
International
France has moved to beef up security in various public places
National
Hiking naked in France does not come risk-free
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se