The People's Democratic Republic of Algeria celebrated its National Day on November 1, commemorating the start of the war of independence on November 1, 1954, the anniversary of the outbreak of the struggle against French colonial presence. On this occasion, the country’s ambassador, Ali Mokrani told Diplomacy&Trade how important this day is for the Algerian people and discussed the friendly ties, solidarity and cooperation between his country and Hungary.
Algeria’s National Day commemorates the start of the war of independence on November 1, 1954. “This year, we are celebrating the 66th anniversary of the outbreak of the struggle against the French colonial presence. For the People of Algeria, this is a historical and sacred date for a multitude of reasons. It constitutes the start of the end of 132 years of French colonial occupation and the emergence of an independent and sovereign country on July 5, 1962. This anniversary is celebrated every year on the November 1 all over the country as well as by the Algerian diaspora throughout the world, in order to pay special tribute to the sacrifice of one and a half millions of our brave Martyrs for the liberation of the country from the yoke of French colonialism,” Ambassador Mokrani tells Diplomacy&Trade.
He adds that November 1 also marks the birth of a free and independent Algeria joining the community of nations in the world – a date that laid the foundations of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria. Furthermore, this date is considered as a reference for the People fighting for their self-determination. “This date is the foundation of a socially inclusive development and a foreign policy committed to Security, Development and to the Living together in peace in the World. This day has also links with Hungary, which supported the liberation struggle of Algeria and for which the People of Algeria are grateful. This year, this anniversary coincided with the adoption of the revised constitution through a referendum initiated by His Excellency the President of the Republic, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, marking the emergence of a New Algeria based on the Rule of Law, democracy, the respect of Human Rights, the economic reforms for attractive foreign direct investment and incentive and secure doing business, the Social Inclusion, the Youth action oriented policy and the promotion of values of living together in peace and shared prosperity in the World.”
Friendly ties, solidarity and cooperation
The Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs has recently said in Algiers that illegal migration to the European Union must be stopped in cooperation with the countries of North Africa. As the Ambassador highlights, “the visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, Péter Szijjártó to Algiers on October 27, 2020 illustrates the quality of friendly ties, solidarity and cooperation existing between Algeria and Hungary. The concretization of this visit despite the challenging context caused by COVID-19 demonstrates the willingness and commitment of the two countries to further enhance and reinforce bilateral ties. This visit, which marks a high point in the history of bilateral political dialogue, served as an opportunity to discuss ways and means for the further enhancement and deepening of cooperative ties between the two countries. It provided an excellent opportunity for a fruitful exchange of views with this Algerian counterpart, Sabri Boukadoum on bilateral relations and regional issues of mutual interest and culminated in the signing of four MoUs, namely, in the field of higher education, vocational training, between the archives and the diplomatic institutes of the two countries.”
The visit was an opportunity also to exchange views on regional issues of common interest, such as the Libyan situation where Algeria is acting without making noise for helping a peaceful solution agreed by the Libyan parties under the UN auspices, respecting unity and integrity of Libya, as it succeeded before in Mali through leading international mediation, Ambassador Mokrani points out. The case of Western Sahara was also raised as the last colony in Africa waiting for a solution under the UN process and pertinent resolutions. The Middle-East problems were also addressed as Algeria is calling for the full implementation of the UN pertinent resolutions for a just, right and definitive solution for the Palestinian issue.
Efforts on human dimension
The migration issue figured on the agenda of the discussions as well. In this respect, Algeria advocates a global approach focusing on the fight against crime networks and human trafficking and its connection with illegal migration. The country wishes to address the root causes of the problems, namely, through cooperation with countries of origin, by resolving conflicts, fighting against climate change, in respect of human dignity and through reinforcement of cooperation at bilateral and multilateral levels.
According to the Ambassador, Algeria has become a destination country for illegal migrants coming mainly from Sub-Saharan Africa. Human, material and financial efforts are deployed in the fight against massive arrival of illegal migrants to the country. These efforts are implemented in the country’s national interest, however, these are also advantageous for nearby European countries in the fight against illegal migration and its consequences, namely, in terms of health, security and economy.
The COVID-19 pandemic weakened economies throughout the African continent where more than 17 million intra-African migrants are circulating and this poses a potential risk for the further spread of intra-African and extra-continental migrations, Ambassador Mokrani says. “Algeria has a coast guard ensuring surveillance and monitoring of 1,700 kms of Mediterranean coastline. These naval forces carry out rescue operations and are fighting against illegal migration. Algeria has a law criminalizing recourse to clandestine immigration as well as those who organize it. Algeria signed readmission agreements on nationals identified as Algerian citizens with major illegal immigration destination member states of the EU. Algeria and the European Union established a joint mechanism of dialogue and cooperation on migration and mobility. Algeria believes that visa facilitation enables to reduce making recourse to fraud by those willing to go to Europe. Last but not least, there is good cooperation between Algeria and Hungary on illegal migration issues and there are only an insignificant number of cases related to Algerian citizens in Hungary.”
The Ambassador stresses that Algeria and Hungary have reciprocal potential and comparative advantages for a mutually beneficial, enhanced cooperation. This includes agriculture, water management, energy, renewable energies, the ITC sector, scientific research and artificial intelligence, culture, sports and tourism with special emphasis on thermal tourism.
He says that Algeria is grateful for Hungary for awarding annual university scholarships in the framework of the Stipendium Hungaricum program. This tradition and support on behalf of Hungary aiming at reinforcing human capacities has been accorded to Algeria since the achievement of independence in 1962. “This is a similar kind of cooperation that maintains Algeria by offering scholarships for African students for more than 40 years,” he adds.
Ambassador Mokrani agrees with the remark that the figures in bilateral trade and especially in the area of investment, are very low. “The volume of bilateral trade is far below the potential of the two countries. It is conducted within the framework of the EU-Algeria Association Agreement as the European Union is the No. 1 trade partner with 54% of Algeria’s imports. The advantages that Algeria can offer are in the field of energy, basic infrastructures, active young workforce, a strategic geographical location between Europe and Africa, the planned reform of the energy sector. Constant cooperation and the signature of agreements in the field of foreign direct investment and in double taxation are founding elements for an enhanced and beneficial partnership between the two countries.”
The prospective completion of the Trans-Sahara Highway connecting Algiers and Lagos (Nigeria), the construction, in Algeria, of the largest maritime port in the south of the Mediterranean, Algeria’s adherence to the African Free Trade area, the flight connection Algiers-Budapest operated by Air Algérie are all structuring factors of bilateral economic partnership, he highlights. Algeria is looking for economic operators in the fields of agriculture, hydraulic systems, health, digital technology, conventional and renewable energy with the aim of responding to its needs in the diversification of its economy and the promotion of industrial alliances exporters and creators of wealth and jobs.
“Algeria and Hungary have established a Joint Economic Commission with a Joint Business Council with the aim of operationalizing the reinforcement of ties of economic complementarity. This is one of my priorities, here in Hungary, to facilitate Business to Business relationships through the economic diplomacy and communication,” the ambassador points out.
Attracting more visitors from Hungary
Algeria is the largest country in Africa and the Mediterranean region with a rich potential in the field of tourism, having it all: sea, mountains, desert and all this in the neighborhood of Europe. “We know well that Hungarians are great travelers, passionate to discover a kind of tourism different from what they are familiar with in Europe. Algeria gives the opportunity to discover the largest and most beautiful desert in the world that can attract Hungarian tourists. The direct flight, the facilitation of visas and marketing campaigns are all available for Hungarians not to mention the rich gastronomy, the cultural diversity and the hospitality of Algerian people. The promotion of Algeria as tourism destination will be engaged in the post COVID-19 phase. I hope that Hungarians discover the secret of the desert as did the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók who visited the city of Biskra in 1913 and his music instruments from there are exhibited at the Museum of Ethnography in Budapest,” the Ambassador notes.
He adds that Algerian tourists show great interest in coming and discovering Hungary for its natural beauties, cultural richness, hotel capacities, thermal installations and its dental care industry. In this respect, issuance of visas should be facilitated in order to make it possible to maximally exploit capacities of Budapest Algiers direct flight.”