De Christian Science Monitor:
First state visit: Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (l.) welcomed French President Nicolas Sarkozy to his palace on Tuesday.
Mr. Sarkozy arrived Monday in an effort to cool decades of tense relations and ink new business contracts with France's ex-colony, which gained independence in 1962, as well as pitch his idea for a Mediterranean Union, a regional community that would unite the 21 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
The union, an initiative that Sarkozy proposed soon after becoming president, would focus on security, immigration, and environmental and cultural linkages among all countries, from Morocco to Malta to Israel, and help coordinate trade between this region and Europe. But his message in the region is reaching many skeptical ears, both those wary of a former colonial master as well as those concerned such a formal compact would simply open the door to European imports and guarantee hydrocarbon-hungry Europe a reliable supply of energy.
On Tuesday, Sarkozy did his part to quell much of the rancor between Algeria and France when he called France's colonial system "profoundly unjust." Addressing the colonial era and the brutal eight-year war of independence, he went partway toward satisfying the longtime demand of Algiers, and of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, for Paris to apologize for its actions as the colonial ruler.
But, he said, "I came to Algeria to build ... an exceptional partnership between our people, and that happens by way of contracts.... The past exists. The future is to be built."
[...] But prominent Algerian journalist Ihsan el Kadi says average Algerians don't give the still ill-defined union proposal much thought. But, Mr. Kadi says, it has the full attention of businessmen in the region, hungry for direct investment and willing to offer incentives to spur more trade across the Mediterranean, or the White Sea, as it's called in Arabic.
Como queda claro, lo que interesa a Sarko son las relaciones comerciales y ha metido la pata hasta el fondo al decir que "el sistema colonial francés fue profundamente injusto". No porque no lo fuera (que lo fue), si no porque lo ha hecho sólo para obligar a Argelia a no ser tan reticente ante la Unión Euro-Mediterránea. Como bien dice el artículo, Argelia, un país rico de gente pobre, va a vender muy cara su participación en esta empresa por la necesidad europea de gas, mientras que otros países más pobres como Túnez y (chan cha channnnnnnnnnnnnnn) Marruecos, están encantados con la posibilidad:
Algeria will be one of the toughest negotiators in a union like what Sarkozy envisions because of its abundant natural gas that is needed in Europe. Neighbors like Tunisia and Morocco share a French colonial history but as protectorates. Being much poorer countries, they appear to welcome the idea of greater ties to the wealthy neighbors to the north.
"Algeria doesn't want to be dependent. The 132 years of colonialism has really ingrained this in people here," says Mr. Parks. That desire, he says, makes Algeria leery of agreements like the one proposed by Sarkozy.
Countries like Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt, which are resource-starved and need trade ties to survive, are likely to be responsive to diplomatic overtures such as the union idea, analysts say.
Además de que esta Unión EuroMediterránea (que, por cierto, ha venido a sustituir entre los líderes internacionales a la Alianza de las Civilizaciones de la mirada positiva) sería un verdadero desastre para Europa: no sólo por los miles o millones de inmigrantes que pasarían a Europa complicando aún más el panorama, si no porque sobre todo Argelia es uno de los países con más problemas de terrorismo islámico de todo el Magreb (recordemos que el antiguo Grupo Islámico para la Predicación y el Combate ha pasado a ser Al-Qaeda en el Norte de África). Y a la vez indigna a sus votantes naturales (y a los repatriados de Argelia).
Resulta curioso que Francia pida perdón (aunque sea a medias) por la colonización y que Turquía siga sin pedir perdón por el genocidio armenio (que eso sí lo fue...).
So Sarko has gone to visit Algeria and has asked (not entirely) for forgiveness about French colonial rule in the area. The reason for that statement is mainly that he wants to build an Euro-Mediterranean Union. Of all the North African countries the most significantly against this project is Algeria precisely as they do not want to be dependent again and they are rich because of the gas they export to Europe.
But other countries, such as Morocco (hmm, I don't like at all the prospect), Tunisia, Egypt or Lybia, are apparently very happy with the prospect.
But Sarkozy has not played a good trick here: not only he has condemned French colonial rule, disgusting his voters and the French-Algerian expatriates in France, but he has done it for mere commercial reasons and to build a Union which would be -in case it is done- highly damaging for European countries, under a lot of pressure yet caused by immigration, specially from Islamic North African countries. The fact that this immigration is mainly uncontrolled and illegal, makes every terrorist, drug/women/weapons' trafficker and smuggling easier, making crime figures even bigger and increasing the sensation of unsecurity, in societies already shaken by those same factors.
Regarding Spain, this would be disastrous: not only March 11th bombings were mainly done (and probably planned) by Moroccan subjects, but Moroccan king, the disgusting Mohammed VIth, reclaims already Melilla, Ceuta and the Canary Islands. The main immigrant community in Spain is the Moroccan one, and Morocco is the way to enter into Spain both of illegal immigrants conveyed by mobs (with the more than probable support of the sultan) and drugs, mainly hasisch and heroin.
But you know, the positive look, as Zapatero calls himself these days in publicity, has not said one thing about this. How could he, when he has been one of the most important supporters of Mohammed VI, without considering his intentions towards those parts of Spanish lands?