Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Photo: AP

Algerian president slaps minister over anti-Semitic remarks

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika slaps veterans minister for suggesting French President Nicolas Sarkozy was elected only due to 'Jewish lobby'. Remarks do not reflect Algeria's views, he says

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika slapped down veterans minister Mohamed Cherif Abbas on Thursday after he said French President Nicolas Sarkozy owed his election to the "Jewish lobby".


Bouteflika told his French counterpart by telephone that Abbas's remarks in a newspaper interview a week ahead of Sarkozy's visit to the former French colony "in no way reflect Algeria's views."


He stressed that Sarkozy would be received "as a friend during his state visit to Algeria, a visit which is essential for both countries," the Algerian presidency said.


Earlier, in a statement to the official Algerian news agency APS, Bouteflika said that "foreign policy is reserved for the president of the republic and his representatives, in particular the foreign minister."


The statement came after France sought clarification of Abbas's remarks published Monday in the Al-Khabar newspaper. "You know the origins of the president of France and you know who it was that brought him to power," Abbas had been quoted as saying.


"The way certain figures from the French left joined Sarkozy's right-wing government (reflects) the beliefs of the real architects of Sarkozy's rise to power - the Jewish lobby which dominates the ruling class in France," he said.


Abbas cited in particular French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, a former Socialist Party member who is half-Jewish: Sarkozy is the son of a Hungarian immigrant to France, while his maternal grandfather was a Jewish man from Greece.


France 'surprised by remarks'

Foreign policy "is conducted directly by the president or duly mandated and competent authorities," Bouteflika told APS.


"Apart from the views expressed by these authorities, any statement or speculation is the sole responsibility of its author or those who publish it.


"It is not part of our tradition, or the way we see the duty of prudence incumbent on any state official with regard to value judgments on foreign heads of state or meddling in the internal affairs of other states."


This particularly applied to "a country with which we have multifarious relations of trust and mutually beneficial cooperation," Bouteflika said.


Abbas's remarks brought strong reaction in France from politicians, rights groups and Jewish organizations.


"We are surprised about these remarks that appeared in the press, which do not correspond to the climate of confidence and cooperation in which we are preparing the president's state visit," French foreign ministry spokeswoman Pascale Andreani said Thursday.


"Given the legitimate emotion aroused by these comments, we are trying to clarify the Algerian position," she added.


Sarkozy has antagonized some in Algeria by saying France should no longer "repent" for its colonial past: Relations between France and Algeria remain brittle after a friendship treaty was scrapped over the French refusal to meet Algerian demands for an apology for the "crimes" of colonization.


פרסום ראשון: 12.01.07, 19:38
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