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Algeria, France Sign Agreement On Memory, Retrieval Of Colonial Archives

25.05.2024 05:57

Agreement aims to ‘retrieve the Algerian archives from the colonial era and possessions of immeasurable historical value to the hearts of the Algerian people,’ Algeria International Radio reports.

Algeria and France signed an agreement concerning the memory and retrieval of Algerian archives from the period of French colonization (1830 - 1962), according to media reports

The Algerian History and Memory Committee, represented by its chairman, historian Lahcen Zeghidi, signed the agreement and joint memorandum with the French Truth and Memory Commission, represented by historian Benjamin Stora, Algeria International Radio reported.

"The signing ceremony, which took place in the capital, Algiers, followed the conclusion of the fifth meeting of the Algeria-France Joint Commission on History and Memory," it said.​​​​​​​

The agreement aims to "retrieve the Algerian archives from the colonial era and possessions of immeasurable historical value to the hearts of the Algerian people."

The fifth meeting of the joint Commission began last Monday in Algiers, which Zeghidi previously described as "procedural and practical" without revealing details.

No additional information was provided about the content of the agreement.

Algeria insists on addressing four main issues with France: complete retrieval of the archives, return of the skulls and remains of resistance fighters, compensation for victims of nuclear tests and the cleanup of lands contaminated by nuclear radiation, and the disclosure of the fate of the missing.

The formation of the joint Commission, composed exclusively of historians, came during French President Emmanuel Macron's visit to Algeria in August 2022, aiming for a "fair treatment" of the memory issue.

Algeria links the improvement of relations with France to progress on the memory file.

The visit of Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune to Paris has been postponed several times because of the issue, specifically the French authorities' refusal to hand over Emir Abdelkader's sword, his burnous (traditional cloak), and some of his belongings, which have been held at the Chateau d'Amboise where he was imprisoned from 1848 to 1852.

Abdelkader was an Algerian political leader and military commander who opposed French colonization in the 1840s. More than 140 years after his death, he remains at the center of the memory and history debate between France and Algeria.

In November, the two countries agreed to the return of 2 million digitized documents related to the colonial period and looted possessions, as well as 29 rolls and 13 registers from the remaining Ottoman-era archives, according to Algerian Radio.

*Writing by Rania Abu Shamala -

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