French-Algerian relations or the search for friendly incomprehension

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The French-Algerian relationship, already marked by a strongly emotional aspect, has become more and more complex since the beginning of the civil war. After hesitating, France began tacitly supporting the Algerian government faced with Islamic insurrectionists, but without any clarification of the fundamental ambiguities that characterize this bilateral relationship, due to frustration and incomprehension. The different periods of « cohabitation » (share of power between government branches of different political orientation) in France have made the expression of a coherent policy line very difficult up until 1999. Since then, French policy toward Algeria could be summarized as a sustainable but limited support to Algerian government and with the transfer of some parts of the file to European Union in order to go round the emotional aspects of the bilateral relationship. In a sense, due to the multiple ties that link them, France and Algeria have no choice but to remain intertwined. What is now essential is an effort to better organize that which could not be « normalized » in this relationship. – Summary AFRI-2001