EU-Algeria: first ever election observation mission
"The EU-Algeria relations are by now strong and mature enough to enable us to embrace the whole spectrum of issues between us," Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle said after his two-days visit to Algeria on Tuesday. During his stay he signed two documents which will mark a new phase in the intensification of the bilateral cooperation: a Memorandum of Understanding on Election Observation and the EU-Algeria Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation. "I am happy that discussions during my visit have helped moving our relations forward," Commissioner Füle said after his talks with the Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Interior, Minister of Finance, the President of the Economic and Social council and with the number of representatives of the civil society.
This was his third visit to Algeria and he expressed his satisfaction about the friendly, constructive and open exchanges he had with his counterparts. In his talks Mr Füle appreciated the ongoing reform process and repeated the readiness of the EU to support it in the framework and with instruments of the European Neighbourhood Policy with a tailor-made approach towards Algeria's own needs: "We are encouraged by the government's approach to reforms. The reform process should not be confined to an isolated timeframe but should be an ongoing, constant process aimed at strenghtening democracy and fundamental freedoms as well as delivering on legitimate aspirations of people," Commissioner Füle said. In this respect he stressed the significance of the Memorandum of Understanding on election observation which creates the conditions for the EU to send the first ever election observation mission to Algeria: "This is another clear sign that we move steadily towards more concrete cooperation.We have no doubts about the importance of these elections,first ones based on a number of reform steps undertaken in response to last year ´s events, which will make the parliament more representative responding also in this way to people ´s aspirations," Mr Fule said.
Commissioner Füle also discussed the law on association expressing understanding for the concerns of the government about the need for transparency of the funding. He welcomed the authorities' continued support for the cooperation between the EU and the Algerian civil society, in full transparency and hoped that the new law would not hamper the reinforcement of this cooperation. He underlined that there were concerns about the association law expressed by the civil society too: "This law should contribute to the strenghtening of the role that civil society plays in the reform process and not the opposite."
In the area of bilateral cooperation Mr Füle discussed with the ministers preparations of the Action Plan in order to identify areas and priorities of future joint activities with Algeria in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy . A first draft of the action plan will be prepared in coming weeks.
Commissioner Füle also held two separte meetings with several dozens representatives of the civil society, one of them in the framework of the Economic and Social council. He recalled the importance the EU is attaching to this particular stakeholder in the reform process: "Successful reforms are only those which are inclusive, when they involve all stakeholders - authorities, civil society, private sector, trade unions. We wish to see the civil society to play appropriate role in Algeria' participation in our neighbourhood policy," Commissioner Füle said in Algiers.