Celebration of National Day 2013
The celebration of the Algerian National Day was held on Wednesday, 30 October 2013, at the Residence of H.E. Mr. Sofiane Mimouni, the Ambassador of Algeria to the I.R.I.. This celebration was marked by the presence of High Ranking Officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
From left: H.E. Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi, Vice-president of the Republic & Chairman of the Nuclear Energy Organization; H.E. Mr. Morteza Sarmadi, Secretary General to the Minister of Foreign Affairs; H.E. Mr. Sofiane Mimouni, Ambassador of Algeria; H.E. Dr. Abbas Akhoundi, Minister of Roads & Urbanism; Hujjat Ul-Islam Mesbahi Moghaddam, Chairman of the Commission of Program & Budget of Majlis & President of Iran-Algeria Friendship Parliamentary Group; H. E. Mr. Alaeddine Boroudjerdi, Chairman of the Commission of the National Security & Foreign Policy of Majlis.
Algeria Keen on Building Sustainable Ties
IRAN DAILY / Tuesday October 29, 2013 / No. 4638:
Ties between Iran and Algeria are marked by a mutual determination to boost bilateral cooperation in political, economic, scientific and cultural fields.
High-level talks have been held between the two countries during international events. There is also a suitable mechanism for regular political interactions between the two countries’ foreign ministries. Efforts have also been made to enhance trade transactions. In an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, Algeria’s Ambassador to Iran H.E. Mr. Sofiane Mimouni elaborates on these and other issues of mutual interest.
1. Since this interview is done on the occasion of the National Day of Algeria, would you please give our readers a brief introduction about the Algerian revolution and independence?
Algeria will celebrate, on November first, the 59th Anniversary of its national day. November first marks indeed the start in 1954 of the heroic struggle of the Algerian people for national liberation which led to the independence of the country on July 5th 1962.
The Algerian Revolution is qualified by the historians as an 'Exemplary Revolution', in as much as:
- it had achieved the liberation of the Algerian people after 132 years of French colonization;
- it was an authentic popular revolution, in the sense that all Algerian social strata took part in the sacred liberation fight;
- it was the result of huge sacrifices of the Algerian people who paid a heavy price for regaining their freedom (1.5 million of martyrs).
- Finally, it inspired many African, Latin American and Asian peoples who have been engaged in similar revolutionary processes.
The main objective of the Algerian Revolution was to restore the freedom and the dignity of the Algerian people and to build a just and egalitarian State that preserves the inalienable rights of every Algerian. In the aftermath of the independence, the Algerian people were resolutely committed, under the leadership of the National Liberation Front (FLN), architect of victory against French colonialism, in the challenging mission of constructing a social, strong and just State, able to respond to the countless needs and expectations of the population in different areas.
Thus, the Algerian State has faced, in 1962, enormous challenges, inheriting, after the departure of France, a devastated country, undermined by poverty, illiteracy (85% of the population) and a completely battered economy. The different development plans that have been implemented since 1962 up to now, contributed to the education of the Algerian people, the creation of infrastructures in all sectors, the fulfillment of a huge number of projects that led to the rise of the general standard of living of the majority of the Algerian population.
This year’s celebration comes after the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the independence of the country. This momentous occasion provides therefore the opportunity to reflect on the past and to measure the progress accomplished so far.
There is no doubt that, despite difficult challenges, Algeria has achieved, during the last fifty years, significant progress in almost every field. Under the leadership of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria is today embarked upon a scheme of national renewal. Indeed, a vast program of reforms aimed at liberalizing the economy, reforming the financial and educational systems and setting the course for economic revival has been introduced during the last ten years.
In this respect, the government launched three investment programs ($I50 billion for the period 2000-2005, $200 billion for the period 2005-2010 and $250 billion for the period 2010-2015). These programs yielded positive results with the realization of various infrastructures and socio-economic equipments and the reduction of the deficit in housing with the realization of one million housing units every five years. The efforts undertaken in order to re-launch the economy have borne results described as positive by foreign partners as well as international organizations and financial institutions.
Indeed, despite a difficult external environment, the economy is today growing, the budget is in surplus, the inflation rate stands at reasonable levels (4.5 %), foreign currency reserves is approaching 200 billion US dollars ($195 billion) and the foreign debt which reached $36 billion in 2000 is extremely low (2% of GDP). The IMF expects Algeria's economic growth to reach 3.4% this year and 3.7% in 2014 and considers that the economic outlook of Algeria is expected to continue to be good.
This year’s celebration comes therefore under positive and promising development since Algeria has consolidated its stability, relaunched its economy and restored its audience.
2. How do you evaluate Iran-Algeria relations?
The relations between Algeria and Iran have developed during the last decade, in a climate of mutual respect and balance of interests reflecting the political will of the two countries to take profit of their economic potentialities and complementarities.
Indeed, the relations of friendship between the two countries have been marked in the course of these last years by a shared willingness to embark the bilateral relations on a new dynamic. This dynamic was reflected through the regular high level consultations between the Presidents and high officials of the two countries on bilateral as well as multilateral issues.
It was also reflected through the regular visits of high officials of the two countries and the holding in Tehran, on November 2010, of the first session of the High Joint Commission. These visits and meetings have illustrated the desire of the two countries to start a new phase marked by a mutual resolve to reinforce and develop the bilateral relations by exploiting all the opportunities in order to strengthen the political, economic, scientific and cultural relations.
In the political field, a tradition of dialogue and consultation has been established at the highest level between the two countries, during international meetings, conferences and summits. There is also a suitable mechanism for regular political consultations between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of both countries.
3. How about economical transactions between the two countries? What is the amount of trade among the two countries?
The current volume of exchanges doesn’t reflect yet the economic potentialities of the two countries. However, efforts are deployed in order to improve this situation and enhance trade and economic cooperation. In this regard, several sessions of the Joint Commission were held since 2002, reflecting the common will of the two countries to evaluate the potential of the bilateral cooperation. Thus, the two countries succeeded in establishing a legal framework for the cooperation with the conclusion of more than fifty agreements, memorandums of understanding and cooperation programs that offer today better prospects of economic cooperation and trade exchanges.
Furthermore, many Iranian companies which show great interest in the Algerian market are now present in Algeria and doing business with their Algerian counterparts.
The presence in Algeria of more than a dozen Iranian companies, prove that the relations between Algeria and Iran are expanding and reaching a high level. Indeed, the economic cooperation which was virtually at an embryonic level is now developing gradually.
The holding in Tehran, in November 2010, of the first session of the High Joint Commission, presided by the Prime-Minister of Algeria and the First Vice-President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, provided a positive assessment of the two countries' bilateral relations and succeeded in identifying new areas to strengthen the cooperation and diversify the economic exchanges.
The common objective of both countries is now to provide a more substantial economic cooperation. Algeria and Iran are today preparing the 2nd session of the High Joint Commission which will be devoted to promoting partnership between both countries.
It is to say that the Algerian-Iranian cooperation is strengthening in a continuous, global and balanced manner in order to involve all aspects of the bilateral relations.
I am therefore confident in the ability of the two countries to go beyond the simple trade exchanges, to give more pace and diversity to the relations of cooperation and to show initiative aimed at building sustainable relations of which both parties would take advantage.
4. With the new Iranian government in charge what are the perspective of relations between Iran and Algeria?
The cooperation between Algeria and Iran has great potentials and offer real and concrete prospects. Nearly all the commitments subscribed in the roadmap adopted during the first session of the High Joint Commission have been fulfilled and we are preparing the meeting of the follow-up committee which will evaluate the progress reached in the implementation of the cooperation.
We have a new government both in Algeria and in Iran with a firm determination to strengthen the economic cooperation between the two countries.
5. As Algeria has good relations both with Iran and Persian Gulf Arab countries, would it mediate to solve differences and discussions between Iran and these countries?
Indeed, Algeria enjoys excellent relations with Iran and the Gulf Arab countries. We are proud of sharing special ties with both Iran and the Gulf Arab countries that arise from the principles that have always guided the foreign policy of Algeria.
We believe that Iran and the Gulf Arab countries are able to overcome by themselves any differences and resolve the problems that undermine their relations. This is all the more true that today there is a window of opportunity and a shared willingness from both sides to improve these relations. Having said that, it goes without saying that if required by both parties, Algeria will obviously examine favorably such a request and will deploy all its efforts to restore confidence between Iran and the Gulf Arab countries, put an end to their differences in order to establish good neighborly relations.
6. How about Syria, does Algeria has any efforts to solve the Syrian crisis?
There is no Algerian mediation whatsoever in the Syrian conflict. Our position on the Syrian conflict is clear and based on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states. Since the beginning of this conflict, Algeria has always been in favor of a political solution. We support the efforts of M. Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria and believe that the dialogue among the Syrians is the only way to solve the Syrian crisis.
The priority must be therefore to stop the civil war and to hold the Geneva Conference II which will enable hopefully a political solution to this conflict.
7. Algeria is considered one of the most stable states in Africa but the African continent is bearing a lot of struggles, what role does Algeria play in solving the differences among other African countries?
Algeria have indeed consolidated its stability, improved its economy and its financial situation but I would like to underline the fact that Africa has also made considerable progress in addressing peace and development issues during the last decade. Even though there are still some conflicts on the continent, the situation in Africa has improved since almost all wars that were raging during the 1990s have ceased. Furthermore, the continent’s economic outlook for 2013 and 2014 is very good. Africa’s economy is projected to grow by 4.8 in 2013 and 5.3 in 2014.
Having said that, Africa constitutes Algeria’s natural political environment and its geographical space. It is, therefore, natural that the policy of Algeria towards the African continent constitutes a priority of its foreign policy.
Since its independence, Algeria has, indeed, developed an African policy based on the principles of solidarity and cooperation. As a founding father of the OAU and an active player in the African Union (AU), Algeria considers that the Peace and Security Council of the AU must play a crucial role in curbing the trend and finding peaceful resolutions to the conflicts that are affecting the continent.
In this regard, Algeria plays a leading role in Africa and has been providing political and financial support for the African Union (AU), which enables the regional organization to play its true role of maintaining peace and settling political crises in the continent.
At the sub-regional level, the efforts of Algeria are aimed at handling threats and risks, which affect its immediate geographical environment. In this respect, the strengthening of security at the borders specifically with Mali and Niger dictates a special attention.
Due to its central position in the region and guided by the principles of its foreign policy, it is only natural that Algeria pays attention to the developments in the neighboring countries as well as to the threats that affect the stability and the security of the sub-region.
Algeria is keen to play a stabilizing role in the region thanks to the unique relationship it has with its neighbors. In this regard, I must recall the various mediations conducted by Algeria to ensure the settlement of conflicts of North Mali and Niger, the institutionalization of a consultation and coordination in the framework of the conference of the Sahel-Saharan countries, the promotion of cooperation on security to combat the manifestations related to the traffic of weapons and drugs.
That is why H.E M. Ramtane Lamamra, the Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs devoted his first official trip abroad, this week, to Mauritania, Niger and Mali.