French president refuses to ‘ask Algeria for forgiveness’ over colonial past

The French president has refused to "ask Algeria for forgiveness" over his country's colonial past.

"I do not have to ask for forgiveness, that is not the matter, the word would break all ties," Emmanuel Macron said in an interview out this Wednesday on French weekly Le Point.

Macron added that his only collective apology was to the "harkis," Algerian auxiliaries in the French army during the Algerian War of Independence, "just because the promise to protect and welcome them has been broken several times."

He hailed a recent agreement with his Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune to continue the discussion about the past.

"The dialogue must continue. This is what interests me more ... The worst would be, everybody apologizes and each goes their way," Macron said.

He also underlined that this discussion must not seek to go towards "balancing all accounts."

"In this case, a bad response is as violent as denial. It would not be a true acknowledgement ... Memory and history work is not about balancing all accounts. On the contrary, it is to defend that there are unmitigated topics, misunderstood, undecidable and perhaps, unforgivable," he added.

Macron also rebuffed Algiers' insistence on an apology from France, arguing that it only served to validate its "uniform national narrative, without working on themselves."

"This will exempt us from recognizing history in its complexity," he added, asserting that the demand that France apologizes also helped "evade the truth and falsely arbitrates history."

In a 2021 interview, Tebboune insisted that France formally recognize the "crimes" of its colonial past in Algeria that started in 1830, with diplomatic ties taking a nosedive later that year.

The two nations ushered in a new era in 2022, especially after Macron payed an official visit to Algeria in August.

Macron and Tebboune signed a "renewed partnership" agreement, showing their willingness to work together and put aside the painful past.

During that visit, the leaders decided to establish a joint committee of historians tasked with settling their differences and confronting the past.

Algeria remained under French occupation for 132 years from 1830, until the North African nation gained its independence in 1962 after eight years of war.

Source: Anadolu Agency