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Algerian crisis: Russia militates for stability and a peaceful settlement

23.03.2019
Article from AFRIC Editorial
Russia is counting on the successful implementation of the Algerian leaders’ plans to stabilize the situation in the republic through national dialogue. This was announced on March 19 by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a joint press conference after an interview with Algerian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ramtan Lamamra.

According to the Russian minister, Lamamra spoke about the government’s action plan for the near future. “We support these plans, we hope they will help stabilize the situation in this friendly state through a national dialogue based on the Algerian Constitution,” Lavrov said. “Of course, we are concerned about what is going on in your country (Algeria), we are seeing attempts to break the situation and we are firmly opposing any interference in these processes,” the minister added.

SINGLE POSITION

Lavrov also noted that Russia and Algeria are opposed to promoting dubious unilateral plans for crisis resolution in the Middle East and North Africa.

“We have a unified position with Algeria on the need to step up collective measures to overcome long-standing crises such as the Arab-Israeli conflict and the problem of Western Sahara on the current international legal basis,” he said. Collective action to implement resolutions adopted by the United Nations Security Council and to oppose attempts to promote dubious projects developed unilaterally.

RUSSIA’S ROLE

Russia wants to play an important role in defining the Algerian crisis, although it is not as obvious and perceptible as in other regions. But Moscow basically adheres to the concept of peaceful transition of power.

Ramtan Lamamra, one of the personalities of the new government, happens to be in Moscow after meetings in Paris, Brussels and Rome. In Algeria, concerns about the possible destabilization of the country are increasing every day. This is why President Bouteflika’s entourage is in a hurry to seek the support of foreign states.

Russia has become the first country to have a clear position on Algeria. Russia in Algeria is clearly not a minor player and she wants to play an important role in the Algerian crisis and defend at best its option of a peaceful settlement. For the moment, Algeria looks better than Paris, ravaged by “yellow vests”.

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES

After independence in 1962, Algeria maintained friendly contacts with the USSR, which became the first country to establish diplomatic relations with independent Algeria.

In 2017, the country became the second largest destination for Russian exports to Africa – $ 4.6 billion (Egypt ranked first, with $ 6.2 billion), while the other 52 countries of the continent had $ 3.9 billion, says the report of the Russian Experts African Common Vision Russia-Africa 2030. In 2018, trade between countries reached $ 5.4 billion, while Russia imported only $ 10 million worth of goods from Algeria, says the study.

Algeria is one of the biggest importers of Russian weapons. Nearly two-thirds of Russian goods exported to Algeria ($ 2.7 billion) came from military products. Another 30% is for ferrous metals, vehicles and equipment ($ 1.3 billion). According to SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute), between 2013 and 2017, 59% of Algeria’s total arms imports represented Russia.

The ties between the two countries are not limited to this: they have common objectives in the oil and gas markets, as well as strategic-diplomatic relations.

DO MANIFESTATIONS THREATEN ALGERIA’S RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA?

The destabilization in Algeria objectively represents a threat to Russian interests in the country.  It does not matter if Bouteflika leaves because of protests or for natural reasons, the new authorities will re-examine Algeria’s political and trade relations, and it is possible that the strengthening of ties with Europe is possible.

The authorities risk losing Algerian officials who still remember the events of the anti-colonial struggle or even participated in it. The current government artificially restricts, in many ways Algerian-French ties. Geographically, France or, for example, Italy are the two most practical trading partners for Algeria. The younger generation is different. In the opposition, many pro-French and pro-American elements are unfamiliar with the role played by the USSR in the liberation of Algeria.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

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