HomeBEYOND TURKEYMacron wakes the sleeping lion

Macron wakes the sleeping lion

prof. Dr. Süleyman Kızıltoprak / Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University
16.10.2021

Emmanuel Macron realized too late that his statements belonged to France 50 years ago. Algeria was neither 19th century Algeria nor France in the Napoleonic era. Speaking like Napoleon, Macron woke the sleeping lion. It embarrassed the French lobby and weakened the influence of Paris. Perhaps the country with the greatest potential in Africa is Algeria. The spirit of independence is very strong in Algeria. It is still the country that has not been shaken by the other Arab countries in the Palestinian cause and gives the clearest support in its foreign policy. After Macron’s words, Algeria gave a clear figure for the first time about how many martyrs they had during the colonial period: 5 million 630 thousand. Considering that the population of Algeria was 3 million in 1830, it is seen how big the massacre was and that it continued uninterrupted during the 130-year occupation period.

After the Second World War, the revolutions in Africa that took place in Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan and Ghana were followed with love, enthusiasm and enthusiasm in Turkey, perhaps the most after the Africans. When the independence of Algeria was voted on at the UN, Turkey made a mistake by not voting in favor. But the people of Anatolia wholeheartedly stood by Algeria. So much so that the late Fethi Gemuhluoğlu wrote articles applauding these revolutions in a local newspaper in Malatya in 1956. He announced the shock and defeat of France and England against the revolutionary movements in Africa to Anatolia. He noted that history will not forget the shameful massacres of the French imperialism oppressed against Algeria forever.

“It is our duty to state that we expect good and happy developments between Algeria and Turkey,” said the late Fethi Gemuhluoğlu. “Africa must be addressed with foresight and attention and with a sensitive mindset,” he said. The relationship of Turkey’s geography with Africa has been in all periods of history. The geography of the Middle East is a part of African history. Today’s problems stem to some extent from not understanding this history, that is, not understanding that Africa and the Middle East are an indivisible geography. The Algerian people, who made revolutions resembling the awakening of the giant in the fairy tale, are trying to ensure peace and stability within themselves today. The steps taken by the Algerian state in the direction of justice, human rights, peace and prosperity make Turkey happy today as it was yesterday.

After Algeria gained its independence, it was led by notable leaders with vision and intellectual depth, such as Ahmed bin Bella, Bouteflika and Tebbune. After Tebbune took office, the importance given to relations with Turkey continues to increase.

Why so angry?

France and Algeria had an up and down relationship after 1962. French colonial rule ended in 1962, but politicians in Paris were often criticized for meddling in Algeria’s internal affairs. However, Macron’s latest statements are contrary to the facts, targeting the entire Algerian nation and damaging their national honor, not his political counterparts. President Emmanuel Macron abandoned the words of friendship and cooperation that he had declared when he was elected to office, and his unfair comments on Algerian politics and history damaged relations between the two countries. In addition, statements targeting Turkey instead of confronting the policies of the colonial era, as the cause of the negative French image that surfaced in Algeria, did not suit Macron and the office he represented. Algeria’It is an incomprehensible attitude that he included Turkey as the reason for the awareness of the French colonial period in Turkey. Along with Turkey’s rightful reactions, other African countries such as the Republic of Mali, which was exploited by France in the past, started to criticize Paris after Algeria’s exit.

Algeria reacted openly, declaring Macron’s comments an “unacceptable interference” in its internal affairs and an “intolerable insult” to Algerians who were victims of French colonialism. Algeria accused France of committing “genocide”. Was this reaction expected? What is behind Algeria’s reaction? Why is France trying to justify its colonial past?

Crimes of France

Relations between the two countries have been strained recently, but they have never been as tough as in recent days.

Speaking to the French newspaper Le Monde, French President Emmanuel Macron claimed that after Algeria’s 1954-1962 independence war, Algeria was ruled by a “political-military system” and that this administration “under the influence of Turkey” distorted the history of the French colonial period.

Algeria’s official reaction to Macron was embodied in the following harsh statements:

“The crimes of colonial France in Algeria are numerous and fit the strictest definitions of genocide”. Algerian President Tebboune spoke publicly for the first time about the conflict with France, demanding “full respect” from the former colonial power. Tebboune told the media that the Algerian ambassador’s return to France was “conditional on full respect for the Algerian state”. Macron’s statements to the French daily Le Monde last week were widely received by the Algerian media and were described as “insulting”. The criticisms of the French President, which he called the “official history” that Algeria wrote for him, were “not based on facts” and were heavily answered.

After Macron’s words, Algeria gave a clear figure for the first time about how many martyrs they had during the colonial period: 5 million 630 thousand. When the population of Algeria is estimated at 3 million in 1830, it is seen how big the massacre was and that it continued uninterrupted during the 130-year occupation period. The President of France made a grave mistake by questioning the existence of the ‘Algerian nation’ before the colonial era. Forgetting his previous criticisms of French colonialism’s policy of assimilation and genocide, he claimed that the “Nation of Algeria” was formed thanks to France. However, Tariq b. If he knew who Abdurrahman al-Gafiqi was, who was stopped in front of Ziyad and then Paris in 732, he would not have tried to make such a determination. Hero of Algeria, Conqueror of Nice Barbaros Hayreddin Pasha’Have you just heard of it? By the order of Suleiman the Magnificent, he rushed to the aid of the French King François against Charles V and set out on his last great expedition. In 1543 he captured the city of Nice. Thus, the King of France, François, preserved the existence of both himself and his country. If Makron remembers these events while talking about history, he will not make wrong interpretations and will easily understand how long the Algerian nation has been on the stage of history.

Increasing interest in Turkey

Even the pro-French Algerian press started to cover developments in Turkey-Algeria relations in the headlines. Finally, the news of the ‘Polypropylene Factory’, which will produce in partnership with Rönesans Holding and Algeria’s national energy company Sonatrach, whose foundation was laid in Adana Ceyhan, made headlines in all Algerian press. Polypropylene, which is a strategic product in the petrochemical and plastics industry, is a very valuable material used in many sectors from agriculture to construction, from automotive to defense industry, from pharmacy to health sector.

This facility, which includes an investment of 1.2 billion dollars, will both reduce Turkey’s imports in petrochemicals and allow Algerian investors to become global players. There are 1,300 Turkish companies, large and small, operating in Algeria. 33 thousand Turkish citizens live in Algeria. This figure probably represents the strongest Turkish community living in Africa. Most of these people are Turkish company owners, employees and their families. The Turkish Consulate will be opened in the city of Oran soon.

TIKA carries out important projects in Algeria and contributes to the preservation of the common historical heritage together with the Algerian government. The establishment of institutions such as the Maarif Foundation and YEE in Algeria as soon as possible will help develop bilateral relations. Because the number of Algerian young people studying in the Turcology departments of Algerian universities and wanting to learn Turkish is quite high. Teaching staff from Turkey contribute to the Turcology departments of universities in Algeria.

Turkey’s interest in Algeria is also quite high in terms of tourism. Turkey is the second country that Algerians prefer for holidays. In terms of health tourism, Algerians mostly choose hospitals in Istanbul and Ankara. In the field of health and cultural tourism, France lags behind Turkey in terms of cost and service quality. There are tourism programs for Algerians in many Turkish cities, especially in Istanbul, Izmir and Antalya. Those coming from Arab countries do not experience cultural difficulties in Turkey. In addition to the different destinations and alternatives Turkey offers, opportunities such as halal food, companion service and visa convenience are considered as the most important reasons why Algerians prefer Turkey.

Common Hero

Macron’s words about the Ottoman presence in Algeria show how much we love the Turks. The increasing sympathy for Turkey in Algeria, which is one of the leading countries of Africa and the Arab world, is not due to the studies carried out in this country. Turkey also carries out its friendship and cooperation activities in Algeria, which it does in other African countries. Turkey’s esteemed diplomats with the vision of opening to Africa are also making sincere efforts in this country, as well as the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Tourism, as well as organizations such as AA and TIKA, carrying out modest but admirable activities under the auspices of the ambassador.

In this context, the series of Barbaros, the common historical hero of the two countries, attracts great attention in Algeria as well as all over the world. TRT’s contribution to cultural relations was once again revealed with this series.

Macron realized too late that his statements belonged to France 50 years ago. Algeria was neither 19th century Algeria nor France in the Napoleonic era. Speaking like Napoleon, Macron woke the sleeping lion. It embarrassed the French lobby and weakened the influence of Paris.

Perhaps the country with the greatest potential in Africa is Algeria. The spirit of independence is very strong in Algeria. It is still the country that has not been shaken by the other Arab countries in the Palestinian cause and gives the clearest support in its foreign policy. Since Algeria has taken a position against the Western colonial powers, it has given importance to its relations with Russia since its independence. Today, it is important for Algeria that Russia expands its network of relations in Africa and shows interest in countries such as Mali and Chad. Because Russia is considered as a balancing factor against other Western powers.

ORSAM President Prof. Dr. As Ahmet Uysal stated, Algeria is a powerful country in the region and has an honorable nation that claims its independence. The Algerian state has shown once again that it will not let go of the crimes against humanity committed in the past against its nation. With this incident, France and other countries have learned once again that they cannot have an approach other than their intention to establish relations with Algeria based on equality. It was seen that the lion, who was thought to be asleep and whose arm was broken, was awake and had a strong will. The economic and political stability of Algeria, which is the largest African country in terms of area, is important for the stability of Libya and the Mediterranean. Algeria’s economy is still closed to the inside, but it is a country rich in raw materials and human resources and has a high economic development potential.The future of Algeria, which has an honorable past, is bright.

@suleymankzltprk

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