French former foreign affairs minister Hubert Védrine to El Khabar

French former foreign affairs minister Hubert Védrine to El Khabar

The friendship treaty was the wrong « good idea »

El Khabar, 7 february 2008

The French former foreign affairs minister Mr. Hubert Védrine said he’s optimistic regarding the Algerian French relations during Sarkozy presidential term noting that the Mediterranean Union is different from Barcelona process.

El Khabar: you have always advocated a French policy for Africa. You’ve suggested the creation of a two-party commission (leftists and rightists) to meet with the African leaders; do you see that this commission is still relevant today?

Hubert Védrine: Yes. I think that listening to Africa not only at the official level is of a paramount importance will bring new perspectives and allow to the French policy getting out of the rut and to outline a new European policy in Africa.

El Khabar: What do you think about President Sarkozy who’s interested only to the French relations with the African and Asian countries through economic contracts?

Hubert Védrine: Such contracts emanate from a big need to development. These contracts cannot be criticized, they are rather important for both parties.

El Khabar: the two visits Nicolas Sarkozy paid to Algeria after his election have been undertaken within an atmosphere of polemics, what do you think about the two trips?

Hubert Védrine: Polemics has always characterized the French Algerian relations… but I think that Sarkozy second trip to Algeria the situation has been well mastered including the past and future issues. Judgments in these matters need to distance.

El Khabar: Algeria and France have tried to conclude a friendship treaty but the initiative has fallen down, for what reasons?

Hubert Védrine: It was the “wrong” good idea. Algeria and France don’t need a friendship treaty to have good and yielding relations.

El Khabar: Are you optimistic towards the future of the Algerian-French relations during Sarkozy presidential term? Hubert Védrine: Of course, why not? This does not depend only on the two parties leaders but also on the two peoples who’re looking forward to better.

El Khabar: The French president has announced his Mediterranean union project; in what aspects the latter differs from the previous projects such as The Barcelona process?

Hubert Védrine: The Barcelona process is a European policy in favour of Europe’s southern neighbourhoods. The initial idea of president Sarkozy consists in elaborating a common project with a partnership perspective. It is a different approach and a good idea but Brussels and Berlin are not enthusiastic about it. At the end, I expect from the Mediterranean union to bring together, in a flexible manner, a number of infinitely variable projects and there is a lot to do.

El Khabar: Don’t you think that Sarkozy project is a mere initiative meant to block the US in the region?

Hubert Védrine: The two topics are separate. The Southern bank countries who have projects with the EU can have good relations with the US who are already present in the region anyway.

El Khabar: Does the US policy notably in Iraq and Palestine shoulder any responsibility in the increasing trend of terrorism worldwide? Hubert Védrine: this thesis is erroneous. Terror is actually the expression of an intense fight in the muslim world fueled by extremists groups to impose their conception of Islam. However, Bush policy in Iraq and Palestine has not yielded; it has rather worsened matters and raised other stakes. If President Bush has talked seven years as he talked in Ramallah recently, many things could have been changed…


07-02-2008 Interviewed by Kamel Zaït/ Translation N.K