Interview with H.E. Mr. Hamid Boukrif, Ambassador of Algeria in the Czech Republic

Mr. Ambassador Hamid Boukrif, how long are you already posted in Prague and where have you served before?

I am in Prague as a newly appointed Ambassador of Algeria to the Czech Republic for over a year. Prior to that, I was dealing with the Policy planning as General Director in the Ministry of foreign affairs in Algeria.

2 – Which regions of the Czech Republic have you visited?

I visited many places in the country with my family. First, Prague is history in motion. The old town has been part of central European history since the end of the 12th century. The other cities like Plzen or Teplice or Karlovy Vary are magnificent. I have enough time to go around during my assignment.

3 – How numerous is the Algerian community in Prague? How integrated is it?

The Algerian community in Prague is over a thousand nationals. Most of them were former students during Czechoslovakia state. They settle here with their families. We have an Algerian-Czech community already. Other Algerians came after. We have quality community, cultivated well appreciated, with several positions. They are well integrated in the Czech society. The community is the bridge between the two countries. Their contribution to the enrichment of our cultural ties is important. They remain the human link with all the references required between the two countries.

4 – How stable is the political situation in Algeria at the moment?

The political situation is stable. Algeria has succeeded in setting up national institutions after having amended the Constitution, which has subsequently been adopted by referendum. The new government is implementing the new development program and we are expecting better economic growth in the coming years. The pandemic is of course difficult and challenging, but we use the best tools to move forward. Algeria has always maintained a level of support for the most vulnerable people. We remain committed to provide health care, education and housing for free for our people. It’s a big challenge. We are attached to this social governance. New challenges are, however, to be taken up. Development and security objectives are to be achieved. Algeria is a central country in the region. Our role, our responsibility is to contribute to fight against terrorism, to secure the environment, to settle crises and reinforce sustainability. Our leading role in the African continent places big responsibilities on us. Our duty is to live up to this responsibility for peace, development and solidarity.

5 – What about the global cooperation with the Czech Republic?

The ties between Algeria and Czech Republic are very good. Our partnership is rooted. The relations between our two communities are historical. My objective is to consolidate them in order to take advantage of the best opportunities. There are possibilities to strengthen them further. The potential for cooperation is great and we have a significant volume of trade. We have established the appropriate legal framework to build a dynamic partnership. I believe we are on the right track. Czech companies have successfully established themselves in the Algerian market, they rely on the facilities granted to direct investors and projects leaders. The year 2021 will be an opportunity to move forward in the negotiation of many projects, including Skoda vehicles, which will remain produced in Algeria. Algeria is an industrial country which has given priority to this sector. Tourism has taken on an important dimension in the government’s development plan and the sector is experiencing significant growth. We call on tourism agencies’ to explore new touristic opportunities and our Czech friends are most welcome in Algeria, a Mediterranean country with its unspoiled nature, its immense desert and its golden beaches.

6 – Does Algeria cooperate with EU as for countering illegal migration?

The issue of migration is both sensitive and crucial. Algeria, which was a transit country, is currently a destination country. Several thousand migrants from the Sahel and sub-Saharan regions have settled in Algeria. Europe has closed its borders and deals with this issue in its sole security dimension. A holistic approach is required. We must tackle the causes of migration, not its consequences. Several conflicts in the region require a political settlement and an inclusive solution, as is the case in Libya. The fight against terrorism must be accompanied by development and integration projects. All partners are required to give meaning to this enterprise of cooperation and solidarity with the countries plagued by violence and chronic instability in our region. The issue should not be held hostage to internal political considerations in Europe, nor it should generate hate speech and Islamophobia. We are required to work together for lasting solutions. This problem is first and foremost a human rights issue. Building a strong partnership with Africa is part of the solution. Our common responsibility is engaged.

7 – How is the position of Algeria regarding Western Sahara evolving?

Western Sahara issue has been taken care of for nearly 50 years by the United Nations. The Security Council is directly involved to settle the problem peacefully. He has established MINURSO to supervise the 1991 cease-fire agreement between Morocco and the Polisario. The Security Council calls for a mutually accepted political solution that will enable the Sahraoui people to exercise their right to self determination. This is the exact wording of the Security Council : to go through a sustainable solution. Algeria is supporting the United Nations process and has always been committed to bring its contribution, as a neighboring country, to definitely settle this problem

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