The current immigration row that France is having with Maghreb countries appears to be coming to an end, following news that diplomatic relations, at least, between Paris and Algiers have been restored.
On Sunday 18th of December, after meeting Algerian officials on a visit to Algeria, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said consular relations will “return to normal.”
The move, although symbolic, is hoped that it will create a momentum between Algeria and France to resolve how the both handle citizens which France wants to send back to Algeria – in most cases those who have over stayed on tourist visas.
France announced last year that it would significantly reduce the numbers of visas being granted to Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian nationals. France said it was because the North African governments refused to provide consular documents for their citizens being deported from France after arriving illegally.
France has been finding it increasingly difficult to send citizens from the three countries back there after they have a received an expulsion order (OQTF).
When a French court denies a person’s visa request, the authorities have to secure a special travel pass from his or her home country in order to forcibly expel them. Paris says Algiers, Rabat and Tunis are refusing to provide that.
Interior ministry figures show that in the first six months of 2021, French courts rejected 7,731 visa requests by Algeria, but failure to get the travel passes meant only 22 individuals were expelled from French territory.
The bold move by the French angered North African officials and complicated cooperation in other spheres.
Earlier this year, France announced a resolution of the dispute with Tunisia. On December 16th, France’s foreign minister also announced a return to normal consular relations with Morocco.
Darmanin visited Algeria this weekend and announced a renewed “visa relationship and exchanges between our populations, in line with the extremely strong, friendly relations between France and Algeria.”
He said he also discussed security cooperation between the countries.
The EU is trying hard to improve relations with Algeria, looking to the former French colony for assistance with the bloc’s energy needs. Yet it is equally concerned by Algeria cashing in on the Ukraine war and using the money to go on an arms spending spree with Russia, which is believes is using Algeria as a pawn in the war between West and Russia