Final whistle on the diplomatic crisis.
France and Algeria recorded this Sunday the return to a "normal consular relationship", according to the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin, traveling to Algiers.
On Friday, the head of French diplomacy, Catherine Colonna had done the same thing from Rabat.
France and Algeria have opened a new page in their relations🇫🇷🇩🇿.
At the request of @EmmanuelMacron, I went to Algiers to discuss with my counterpart and President Tebboune the cooperation of our two countries in the areas of migration and security.
– Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) December 18, 2022
A penalty for exerting pressure
The beginning of the crisis dates back to the fall of 2021. At that time, the French government decided to reduce the issuance of visas in Morocco and Algeria by half and by 30% in Tunisia.
The goal ?
Force these countries to cooperate more in the fight against illegal immigration.
France reproached the three States for not issuing laissez-passer when their nationals were expelled.
For example, Algeria had granted only 5% of French requests in 2021, against 56.3% in 2019, noted Le Monde last year.
A “misunderstanding on both sides of the Mediterranean”
On the Algerian side, several arguments were put forward to justify this restriction.
"It took place in the midst of a health crisis in the country, at a time when the Algerian borders were even closed to nationals who were abroad", insists the director of the Maghreb Observatory at IRIS Brahim Oumansour, who speaks of a "misunderstanding on both sides of the Mediterranean" in this affair.
“There was not a general refusal from the authorities”, he continues, but from people “whose identity it was difficult to establish with certainty” or who were “files S and for whom there was a security issue ".
To this are added "a lot of nuisances" which have soured relations, "such as postponed contracts or the promotion of English to the detriment of French", notes Antoine Basbous, director of the Observatory of Arab countries.
"This visa blackmail was experienced as a humiliation," continues Brahim Oumansour, because it did not only affect potential immigration candidates.
“Many businessmen, politicians, personalities have been handicapped by this decision”, he develops.
A visit from Macron to unblock relations
It was thus necessary to rebuild a damaged relationship.
“A closeness has been created between Emmanuel Macron and Abdelmadjid Tebboune.
The two governments have succeeded in overcoming these tensions”, deciphers Brahim Oumansour.
He mentions in particular the “multiple gestures made by Paris on the memorial question, the recognition of the responsibility of the State in the death of Ali Boumendjel, and more concretely the visit of Emmanuel Macron in August”.
Read alsoEmmanuel Macron's trip to Algeria: "There are pains on both sides, but we have to turn the page"
The visit of the President of the Republic continued with that of the Prime Minister, Élisabeth Borne, and about fifteen ministers, another sign of a rapprochement.
The energy issue at the heart of the file?
Gérald Darmanin's Algerian visit comes to close a tumultuous chapter between France and the Maghreb countries, after the lifting of restrictions in Morocco at the end of last week and in Tunisia.
“They announce a return to normal, but will the number of visas issued be the same?
Antoine Basbous is already wondering, very circumspect.
"The Algerian authorities clearly say that when the identity of a national is confirmed, there is a laissez-passer", maintains Brahim Oumansour, who underlines how "it is impossible to talk about economic cooperation and partnership without mobility equal ".
In his viewfinder, the energy issue: “Algeria is a major gas producer, considered by the EU as an alternative to part of Russian production,” he recalls.
Antoine Basbous is more mixed on the thaw: “I have not seen an Algerian minister in Paris.
On the other hand, I saw Tebboune mention a trip to Moscow.