Algeria: France urged to make amends for the colonial era

Rome, 1 Sept. (AKI) - France must make reparations for its bloody colonial past in Algeria as Italy has now done with Libya, Algerian politicians and intellectuals argued on Monday.

The calls followed the signing on Saturday between Italy and Libya of a 5 billion dollar investment agreement to resolve colonial-era disputes.

The 25-year deal includes the construction of a highway running between Egypt and Tunisia and the return to Libya of of an prized ancient marble statue taken to Rome in colonial times.

The settlement was a "complete and moral acknowledgement of the damage inflicted on Libya by Italy during the colonial period," said Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

"Italy committed historic errors in Libya, and the Italian government's move to apologise is positive," secretary of Algeria's National Liberation Front (FLN) party, Al-Said Abu Haja, told Algerian daily El-Khabar.

The FLN led the war of independence from France between 1954 and 1962.

"We hope that the European Union will be able to put pressure on other former colonial powers such as France and get it to make amends for what it did in Algeria," Haja added.

"Algeria asked for France to apologise long before Libya [asked Italy]. The French occupied us for 130 years."

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi (photo) has offered Italy several incentives under the bilateral accord reached with Berlusconi.

"Rome should have privileges in gas and oil projects since the country is a friend," Gaddafi said.

He was speaking at a meeting of government supporters, parliamentarians and military officials held in Libya's second largest city, Benghazi, to mark the 39th anniversary of the coup that brought him to power in September 1969.

Italy occupied Libya in 1911 and it became an Italian colony in the 1930s. The former Ottoman territory gained independence in 1951.

Berlusconi last saw Gaddafi in June when they discussed the implementation of a December 2007 accord on joint maritime patrols to stop the flow of illegal immigrants from Africa to Europe.

Italy has been pressing for the implementation of the deal, as thousands continue to make the perilous voyage across the Mediterranean.

Libya has welcomed a host of foreign dignitaries since Gaddafi ended years of diplomatic isolation with his 2003 announcement that Tripoli was abandoning efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction.


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