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Algeria : The Process of Reform

Algeria : The Process of Reform

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria recently discussed the future of his nation and the region with Christian Malar and Florence Bourdon in an exclusive interview for Trends, The International Magazine on Arab Affairs (Arabies © Trends). Issue 83, February 2005.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika - Arabies & Trends Photo

  • Last April, you won a five-year mandate in the presidential elections. What are your priorities?

My priorities follow on from the program I proposed to Algerians in March 2004. It hinges on the achieving of goals that will allow the country definitively to resolve the crisis of the past decade. I mean to achieve these objectives by putting the finishing touches on national reconciliation, strengthening and modernizing the state, pursuing economic and social development as well as a foreign policy that is marked by steadfast cooperation and the consolidation of peace and stability in the region, in Africa and in the world. It’s a question of pursuing and improving on the work accomplished during my first mandate.

  • Your policy has managed to reduce terrorist activity substantially. Are you going to capitalize on this to speed up economic and social development throughout the country?

It’s undeniable that terrorism has impeded the country’s energy, blocked creative initiatives and put a brake on the impetus given to economic and social development by independence. With the return of peace and stability, Algerians are going back to work. There are many positive indicators. Growth is back. Macroeconomic indicators are satisfactory. The debt charge is bearable. There is more investment and increasing confidence. All these factors are likely to accelerate economic and social development.

  • What are your other major projects?

The second plan to boost the economy is being elaborated. Priorities include foundation projects that will be useful across the whole spectrum of economic activity as well as social projects such as those to do with housing, education, training, health and water.

  • Algeria has a lot going for it: a youthful population, gas, oil, agriculture and burgeoning tourism. Do you want to go down in history as the man responsible for the creation of a land of plenty?

I hope that my country gets back to work in order to make the most of the potential that nature has bestowed upon it. If anyone goes down in history, it will be all the people of Algeria. Everyone will to some degree be responsible for the creation of a land of plenty, as you put it. In the future, Algeria will be what we – individually and together – want to make of it. Therefore, I hope that we all get down to work.

  • As the leader of a major oil-producing country, are you afraid that the price of oil will rise even higher to over $50 a barrel? Are you afraid that this will lead to a world economic crisis? What could Algeria do to allay fears of a crisis?

Oil is a factor in the development and prosperity of all the countries of the world. Producers and consumers should thus both be allowed to get something out of it. The stability of the global economy concerns us all, but it should develop according to principles of equality so that the gap separating the rich from the poor, the North from the South, and industrialized nations from developing nations ceases to widen. Efforts should be made to close the gap, otherwise the machinery of globalization will jam. We should start by establishing peace by resolving the crises that lead to unstable prices.

I don’t think that the skyrocketing price of oil is a potential cause of a major crisis, as you say, but rather the consequence of structural crises that affect the political and economic equilibrium of the world. This is why my country is tirelessly working to achieve peace. Once this goal is achieved, the issue of the price of oil will not be raised in the way that it is today. That said, the price of oil is not over $50, but around $40.

  • The high price of oil is partly a consequence of the war in Iraq. What do you think the solution to the crisis in Iraq is?

The solution to the crisis in Iraq is through the sovereignty of the Iraqi people and the unity of Iraq. It’s up to Iraqis to decide freely about their future with no outside interference other than perhaps that of the UN and of the UN alone.

  • You and France’s President Chirac are working to draw up a treaty of reconciliation and partnership between France and Algeria along the lines of the Franco-German Treaty. When will the treaty be ready?

We are both working on it. As the process is well underway, it will be brought to completion.

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).