The French Interior Minister, Ms. Michèle Alliot-Marie to El Khabar

The French Interior Minister, Ms. Michèle Alliot-Marie to El Khabar

France looks forward to benefit from Algeria’s counterterrorism experience

A €2 millions agreement for modernizing Algerian Fire Fighting

El Khabar, 5 may 2008

The French Minister of the Interior and Overseas Territories, Ms. Michèle Alliot-Marie has praised the level of security cooperation between Algeria and France, pointing out that the security situation in Algeria has significantly improved compared to the nineties. She further stated, in this interview, with El Khabar that France is looking forward to benefit from the experience of Algerian security services in terms of counterterrorism.

El Khabar: Observers say you are among most Fillon Government members familiar with “the Algerian File.” Would you mind telling us about objectives of your second visit to Algeria?

M.A.M: Well, first of all, I’d like to say I’m very happy to come to Algeria for the second time since 2004, when I came as a Defense Minister, and meet again with Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni. However, it was the first time that a Defense Minister visits Algeria since its Independence. Today, I give the same importance to relationships between us. The security of any country is linked to the prevailing international situation, threats exposed by terror, as well as narcotic and weapons’ trafficking which usually come from abroad. Efficiency requires countering them internationally, while the Algerian-French cooperation is of a paramount importance in all this. We can for instance increase our non-central cooperation between Algerian and French cities and municipalities. I’ll talk about this issue in the speech I’m to deliver today to officials of local authorities.

El Khabar:How do you assess the cooperation with Algerian Home Affairs Ministry since your appointment as France’s Interior Minister in 2007?

M.A.M: The two ministries have been engaged, for ages, into high level cooperation. In terms of homeland security, we have improved joint initiatives in information and expertise exchange and training which reached interesting levels. We are preparing to go further. Tomorrow, we are to seal a 2 million euros agreement targeting modernizing and reinforcing action capacities of the Algerian fire-fighting.

El Khabar:Do you still consider that terrorism in Algeria represents a strong, real and long last threat? Don’t you think it is an exaggerated conclusion?

M.A.M: The Algerian authorities have led a long and arduous battle against terrorism. I’d like to pay a tribute to all security forces participated in the fight against this scourge, often at the expense of their life and safety. It is axiomatic to say, Algeria no longer faces the situation like it used to be in the nineties; the years described by Algerians themselves as « black decade ». Terrorism has got weaker and became isolated. Algerians are fully aware that terrorists themselves haphazardly attributing themselves to Islam, while the geographical area activating in by these armed organizations has considerably shrunk. Furthermore, The accession of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, GSPC to Al-Qaeda, has given what is known as the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb a privilege position “to exploit terrorism,” and, without doubt, a way to avoid extinction. The purpose of resorting to suicide attacks targeting civilians is intended, as we all know, to hit a media echo. Accordingly, terror threat has not ceased to exist, but no longer big as it used to be.

El Khabar:Illegal migration is among current issues. How does France look to this issue, and how does your Government deal with it?

M.A.M: Well, illegal migration, unfortunately, could lead to tragic consequences either on the illegal migrants themselves or on their country of origin, or even on the country they left to. Algeria used to be a transit country for illegal migrants, yet, nowadays it is encountering the same situation as France or Spain. Our policies should be built on bilateral discussions. It is in the interest of Algeria and France to facilitate visa delivery as to increase and ease the movement of individuals between the two countries. We have done significant progress in this term, and we are pursuing working on this vein. We have also to persuade youth that their future could only be built in their countries. Eventually, we have to increase training offers, through partnership with Algerian universities, while the French Government has made proposals in this term.


05-05-2008 Interview K. Zait/ Translation A. Ait El Hara