France plays down Algerian 'genocide' comments

9th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 9, 2006 (AFP) - France on Tuesday played down a stinging attack by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, after he repeated claims that France's colonisation of the north African country had been "genocidal".

PARIS, May 9, 2006 (AFP) - France on Tuesday played down a stinging attack by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, after he repeated claims that France's colonisation of the north African country had been "genocidal".

The foreign ministry in Paris said it saw Bouteflika's comments, made on Monday on the 61st anniversary of a massacre of Algerian civilians by French troops, as leaving room for cooperation.

"We understand, from these statements, that there is a shared will to move forward and to strengthen bilateral relations," said ministry spokesman Denis Simonneau.

In a declaration read at the site of the massacre in Guelma, eastern Algeria, Bouteflika described France's colonisation of his country, which it ruled from 1830 to 1962, as "long, brutal, genocidal".

Algeria, he said, had a "fundamental right" to a "public and solemn apology for the crime of colonisation committed againist our people".

The Algerian leader dismissed suggestions of a "crisis" between Paris and Algiers, but said there was "still much to do in order to fulfil our shared ambition to go further together".

The French foreign ministry declined to comment on Bouteflika's use of the word "genocidal".

Bouteflika raised tensions last month by declaring that colonial France had committed a "genocide of Algerian identity".

Relations between France and Algeria have been strained since February 2005 when the French government passed a law — later repealed — requiring schools to stress the "positive role" of French colonialism.

Plans for a "friendship treaty" between the two countries have been shelved indefinitely.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article