Zaman Online, Turkey
May 10 2005

Paris Making the Armenian Allegations 'Legal' now Embraces Algerian
Archives

By Ali Ihsan Aydin



Algerian President Abdullaziz Buteflika has called on France "to
accept its responsibility" on the 60th anniversary of the Setif
Massacre on May 8, 1945; and received a unique response: "Let's
undertake an archival study."

The French Parliament undertook a decision in 2001 regarding the
Armenians despite all of the Turkish reactions that had defended the
deaths in 1915. However, France has not adopted the same attitude to
Algeria.

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said that history should be
examined together "for establishing a common future and removing
difficult times". Speaking to the Algeria newspaper Al-Vatan, Barnier
said, "It is necessary to encourage the works of historians from both
parties. They should work together on the common past". Reminded that
the French archives relating to the French era in Algeria are open to
historians, Barnier has expressed that there has been a study into
this era already prepared by the Algerian and French historians and
that this could help to clarify any disputes. In addition to
President Buteflika, some intellectuals and civil society
organizations in Algeria during the 60th anniversary of the Setif
massacre had expected France to accept their responsibility for the
deaths.

The French army had held both airborne and land attacks against Setif
and Guelma to suppress French opposition demonstrations in Algeria on
8 May 1945. While the Algerian government suggests that about 45,000
Algerians were killed in the oppression, French historians claim that
the numbers of those killed was only around 20,000. While French
politicians have remained tight-lipped over the claims since 1962,
when Algeria gained its independence, the first statement on
recognizing the deaths came from the French Algerian Ambassador.
Ambassador Hubert Colin de Verdiere who visited Setif in February to
remember those who were killed in the massacre had recorded that the
Setif massacre has been "an unforgivable tragedy". On other hand,
Foreign Minister Barnier who reminded that Ambassador's view is also
the view of France added that this also demonstrates the importance
given by France on "brain storming" the issue with its brother state,
Algeria.

On the other hand, the Algeria President addressed the public in
Setif to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the massacre and noted
that they expect further steps to be taken by France following these
statements. Buteflika said, "They faced a French attack after
returning from European and African fronts where our Algerian soldier
heroes defend the interests and honor of France to Algeria" reminding
in his declaration that while Europeans were celebrating their
victory against Nazi Germany on 8 May 1945, the French were killing
Algerians who had gathered in the streets to gain their independence.