a memorial service at the Élysée with war witnesses

The 60th anniversary of the Evian Agreements was celebrated this Saturday, March 19, in France. A reception was held at noon in the Presidential Palace in Paris. Two hundred people had been invited by the French head of state, to mark the date of March 19, 1962 and the entry into force of a ceasefire after more than seven years of war in Algeria. Without making any new announcements, Emmanuel Macron again appealed for a reconciliation of memories.

March 19 was neither the beginning nor the end of the war, but it was a milestone, the French president explains. Emmanuel Macron recalls gestures of remembrance from his five-year term: acknowledging the French army’s responsibility for the deaths of Maurice Audin and Ali Boumendjel, reports by historian Benjamin Stora and gestures also against Algeria, such as the restoration of skulls from 19th-century Algerian resistance fighters.

“Many will say, ‘You are doing all this, but you are not serious because Algeria is not moving,'” the French president said. “I think it will be more difficult for the Algerian people and the Algerian leaders than for us, but it will come. So I adopt this outstretched hand and I think it will be followed by gestures, actions gradually.”

“Deep Fractures” A speech in the absence of an Algerian official, although the Algerian Ambassador to France had been invited. Witnesses to the Algerian war were there: conscripts, separatist warriors, harkis and returnees. Four of them spoke, including Rosemarie Antoine, who came to commemorate the returnees. “Younger generations should know that this war, and everything that preceded it, generated deep rifts on both sides of the Mediterranean. It is time that we turn all these wounded memories into a force to build a future together.”

Young people were also present in the room. About a hundred high school and college students, as well as their teachers, had been invited.

► To read also: Algerian War: The tumultuous history of the Evian Agreement

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