Algeria: remarks at the press conference
"This is my third visit to Algeria and it reflects the agreement between the Foreign Minister and I that the more intensive interactions we have, the better our relations will be . I am glad to be here for the third time on such a special day for Algerian history (anniversary of the Evian agreements). Since my previous visit last May, Algeria engaged in some important reforms. I am fully aware that these reforms reflect the political willingness, at the highest level, to undertake necessary changes for the benefit of the Algerian people . I also know that these reforms are not always an easy step to take. However, I remain convinced that they are crucial for Algeria and I wish to express the EU´s full support for this process.
The reform process needs to respond to the legitimate aspirations of the Algerian people. It is also very important to implement recent reforms in a way that allows them to constitute a real step towards more democracy and more respect for fundamental freedoms. We hope to see concrete progress on the freedom of expression and association. With the goal of supporting the reforms and creating incentives for the process to carry on, I was glad to inform the Minister about the additional resources assigned for Algeria from the Spring program.
When it comes to the bilateral area, our relations entered a more intensive period. Let me mention just some of the positive developments:
- we were discussing European Neighbourhood Policy and how to move forward the preparations for the Action Plan.
- another important element was the invitation extended to the EU, for the very first time, by the Algerian authorities to observe the May elections. This is a mark of trust towards the EU and I appreciate this important development in our relations.
- last week, the HR/VP Ms. Ashton decided to deploy an EU Election observation mission. We are now preparing this mission.
- today we signed the EU-Algeria Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation.
This demonstrates our potential for deepening our relations. I hope that the Action plan will enable us to define more concrete measures and projects to strengthen our overall cooperation.
There is a lot to achieve in our relations and let me stress that in our dialogue the EU is attaching a very high importance to discussions with the civil society, too, including representatives from the private sector. I will shortly meet several representatives of NGOs, but also economic and social stakeholders.
Finally I'd like to underline the importance which we attach – based on our own experience - to regional integration. We are convinced that this will create new opportunities for people. I have noted with great interest regional efforts to enhance stability and prosperity, and efforts to improve relations among Maghreb countries. The Commission is ready to consider concrete projects that can support this ambition."