Macron forced to make embarrassing U-turn as France scrambles to replace Russian energy

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The French President’s relationship with the North African country soured last year when Mr Macron made controversial comments relating to France and Algeria’s colonial past. Speaking at a dinner with descendants of veterans of the Algerian war of independence, the French leader said: “Was there an Algerian nation before French colonisation? That is the question.”

In October 2021, President Macron also announced a 50 percent reduction in visas granted to Algerians.

The move infuriated Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune who recalled his ambassador from Paris and banned French military planes from Algeria’s airspace.

Now the two leaders will meet to “deepen bilateral relations, reinforce Franco-Algerian cooperation over regional conflicts and further historical reconciliation”.

It will be Mr Macron’s second official visit to the North African country which holds close business ties with Paris.

Thanks to its large natural gas reserves, Algeria recently has become a centre of attention for the European Union in its efforts to cut back imports from Russia.

In July, former Italian leader Mario Draghi also negotiated an increase in Algerian gas provisions.

European leaders feared the Kremlin would prolong the suspension of gas flows to the EU to force the bloc to lift the economic sanctions they imposed on Russia.

Though the pipeline did resume gas flows – to the relief of Europe, which feared an economic recession – Gazprom halved the amount of gas flowing through the pipeline to 20 percent of capacity.

Now, the EU is racing against the clock to fill up gas storage ahead of what could be a difficult winter. EU leaders are concerned Russia could cut its gas supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

Thanks to LNG deals with Qatar and the United States, the EU has been able to almost reach its target of 80 percent of gas storage.

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