Recently, the relationship between Algeria and France has been greatly strained, against the background of the latter’s tightening of the conditions for granting entry visas to citizens of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, while analysts expect this tension to increase in the coming days.
The Algerian Foreign Ministry summoned the French ambassador, François Gouyat, in protest against Paris’ decision to tighten visa procedures for Algerians.
The ministry said, in a statement, that its Secretary-General, Chakib Kaid, summoned the French ambassador, and informed him of the Algerian authorities’ protest against “a unilateral decision by the French government that negatively affected the movement of Algerian nationals towards France.”
She added that “Qaid” informed him that “this decision, which was issued without prior coordination with the Algerian side, caused media coverage in a way that raised questions about its motives and how to implement it.”
France and Algerian visas
France decided, in an unprecedented step, to tighten the conditions for granting entry visas to citizens of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, according to what was announced by French government spokesman Gabriel Attal.
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On Tuesday, Atal announced on “Europe 1” radio that France had taken this decision due to the aforementioned countries’ refusal to issue consular permits to take back their citizens who are in France illegally.
In this context, France decided to halve the number of visas granted to citizens of Algeria and Morocco, and 30% to Tunisians.
“It is a radical and unprecedented decision, but it was necessary because these countries do not accept the return of nationals that we do not want and we cannot keep in France,” Atal said.
In his statements, Atal explained: “Between January and July 2021, the French justice ordered the deportation of 7,731 Algerians, but only 22 of them left France, or only 0.2%, and this explains that these countries refuse to take back their citizens. France, for its part, cannot keep them on its soil.”
The announcement by Emmanuel Macron’s government spokesman comes hours before far-right leader Marine Le Pen presented her plan on immigration, in preparation for the upcoming presidential elections, during which a new president will be elected for the country, which is scheduled to be held in two rounds on April 10 and 24, 2022.
Morocco responds to France’s decision
In response to the step taken by France, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita considered this decision “unjustified”, stressing that Rabat will follow up the issue with the French authorities.
Bourita said during a joint press conference with his Mauritanian counterpart, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, in Rabat: “The French decision on visas is not justified for a number of reasons, including that Morocco has always dealt with the issue of immigration from the logic of responsibility,” noting that “the problem is French and French.” “.
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Official figures indicate that during the first six months of last year, France issued about 63,000 visas for 96,000 applications, a rate of 65%.
A number that worsened during the first six months of 2021, as France satisfied more than two out of three visa applications from Algeria.
The immigration file is among the burning points of the upcoming elections, which prompted Macron to take unprecedented measures in order to increase his record points, although he has not yet announced whether he will run in the elections in the hope of winning a second presidential term or not.
Paris justified its move on the grounds that these countries refused to issue the necessary consular permits to return irregular immigrants from their nationals who are in France.
According to French media, 7,731 deportation decisions were issued by France against Algerians between January and July 2021, 597 of whom were arrested, and the Algerian authorities issued only 31 consular permits to return nationals to the country.
Last December, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanan announced that French President Emmanuel Macron had decided to reduce visas granted to Algerians in 2019 to stop the flow of irregular immigration.
According to official data from the French Consulate in Algeria, out of 504,000 visa applications in 2019, only 274,000 were approved.
While in 2018, the French consulates in Algeria (there are three) granted 412 thousand visas, while the number of applications exceeded half a million, according to the same data.
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