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France ready to hand over to Algeria a copy of its archives of the colonial period

Emmanuel Macron is ready to give Algeria a copy of the archives of the French colonial period (1830-1962), claimed for years by Algiers, said Thursday in Paris the Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, hailing a “breakthrough” for the sensitive file of the “memory” Franco-Algerian.

The day after the visit of the French president to Algeria, Ouyahia was received Thursday at Matignon by his counterpart Édouard Philippe as part of a “high level intergovernmental committee” regularly organized by both countries.

Wednesday, in Algiers, Emmanuel Macron said he was “ready” for Paris to restore the skulls of Algerian insurgents killed in the nineteenth century by the French army and kept at the Museum of Man in Paris, a move expected by the ‘Algeria.

According to Mr. Ouyahia, the French president also said the “availability” of France to submit a “duplication” of the archives of the colonial period (1830-1962), a subject that Mr. Macron did not discuss Wednesday before the press in Algiers.

“On the issue of archives, we have also made a good breakthrough, since Emmanuel Macron announced yesterday (Wednesday), on behalf of France, the availability of our partner to give us a duplication of all archives, which will handle several affairs of daily life in Algeria “, welcomed the Algerian Prime Minister, at a press conference with Mr. Philippe.

As for the question of a gradual “restitution” of these archives, the two countries will “continue to discuss”, he added.

“The record of the past, Algeria does not raise it to lock up Algerian-French relations in the past but to lighten the common approach to the future, give more spirit, taking care of some problems that we have” said Ouyahia.

Édouard Philippe for his part said his desire to develop the bilateral relationship “by looking at our past right in the eyes, in its shadows, in its elements of light too”.

Regarding the delivery of the skulls of Algerian insurgents, “the Algerian side will complete the procedural file, the French side will prepare the law because it takes one,” said the Algerian Prime Minister.

After an official request from Algeria, a “declassification law” must be adopted by the French Parliament to authorize the return, confirmed Matignon.

A procedure, mandatory because of the principle of inalienability of public collections, already followed in 2010 to restore mummified Maori heads.

French and Algerian academics have been demanding for several years that 37 Algerian skulls, revolted during the second half of the 19th century against French colonization, and repatriated since the end of the 19th century to the Musée de l’Homme in Paris, be repatriated to Algeria.

Although Macron made the move on Wednesday, he also called for “efforts” by the Algerian authorities on issues of “memory and recognition”.

Ouyahia did not mention a gesture of reciprocity Thursday, only to evoke a “shared desire to find ways and solutions to meet the two peoples.”


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