Rare Show of Western Spine as Macron Refuses to Apologise to Algeria for French History

President Emmanuel Macron has said he will not “ask forgiveness” from Algeria for French colonisation but hopes to continue working towards reconciliation with his counterpart Abdelmajid Tebboune.

“It’s not up to me to ask forgiveness, that’s not what this is about, that word would break all of our ties,” he said in an interview for Le Point magazine published late Wednesday.

“The worst thing would be to decide: ‘we apologise and each go our own way’,” Macron said.

“Work on memory and history isn’t a settling of all accounts,” he added.

But in the interview, he also expressed hope that Tebboune “will be able to come to France in 2023”, to return Macron’s own trip to Algiers last year and continue their “unprecedented work of friendship”.

France’s 100-year colonisation of Algeria and the viciously fought 1954-62 war for independence have left deep scars on both sides, which Macron has by turns prodded and soothed over his political career.

In 2017, then-presidential candidate Macron dubbed the French occupation a “crime against humanity”.

A report he commissioned from historian Benjamin Stora recommended in 2020 further moves to reconcile the two countries, while ruling out “repentance” and “apologies”.

Macron has also questioned whether Algeria existed as a nation before being colonised by France, drawing an angry response from Algiers.

“These moments of tension teach us,” Macron told the Algerian writer Kamel Daoud in the interview.

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