ALGERIA-UNITED KINGDOM: PARTNERSHIP AND STRATEGIC DIALOGUE
Algeria and the United Kingdom have agreed to continue strengthening and consolidating the bilateral partnership in all areas and to cooperate on regional and international issues of common interest, according to the joint communiqué following the work of the 2nd session of the strategic dialogue between the two countries held on November 15 in London. The two parties expressed their satisfaction with “the progress made in the application of the recommendations of the 1st strategic dialogue session held in 2020, welcoming the longstanding relations uniting Algeria and the United Kingdom dating from the 16th century. Both parties congratulated, in particular, on: “…the depth of diplomatic, security, economic and commercial relations and those maintained in the fields of defence, scientific research, education and cultural cooperation ….. and to continue strengthening and consolidating the bilateral partnership in these areas….. »
In this context, the two parties affirmed the possibility of strengthening economic cooperation in various sectors, such as trade, investment, energy and technology, by committing to facilitate and encourage trade and investment, define opportunities for establishing commercial partnerships and create a favourable environment to meet the economic commitment. Regarding defence and security, it was agreed to strengthen intelligence and information sharing and cooperation and support efforts aimed at capacities building to strengthen security and stability in the region, expressing their aspiration to work towards deepening close defence relations and joint military dialogue in 2024. They stressed the importance of cooperation in the field of energy, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, and the transition to a low-carbon economy. Furthermore, the two parties welcomed the launch of the joint committee for higher education, a mechanism strengthening cooperation and establishing partnerships between universities within the framework of twinning agreements, joint projects, and research programs in the fields of agriculture, renewable energies, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and green hydrogen. Welcoming the recent signing of an updated memorandum of understanding concerning the creation of British schools in Algeria, the two parties expressed the wish to open, in 2024, a second school “British Campus Algeria”. The United Kingdom also welcomed Algeria’s decision to create an Algerian Cultural Centre in London to promote and expand cultural relations between the two countries.
At the geopolitical level, the two parties discussed during the 2nd strategic dialogue session, regional and multilateral issues of common interest, exchanging their assessments of the situation in the MENA region and the Sahel. Indeed, they reaffirmed their “commitment to regular political dialogue and high-level exchanges with a view to deepening understanding and strengthening cooperation on regional and international issues of common interest”. They also committed to promoting peace, security and stability in their region and internationally, through close coordination and cooperation within international organizations and forums. Both sides expressed concern over unconstitutional government changes, including in the Sahel region, highlighting the importance of addressing the root causes of instability. The security situation in Mali and the imperative to achieve a solution to the Niger crisis were among the issues of particular concern. Regarding the current situation in the Middle East, both parties expressed their deep concern about the deterioration of the humanitarian situation, calling for the protection of civilians and the facilitation of the delivery of humanitarian aid, while affirming their support for the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders as the only solution to the conflict. Regarding the question of Western Sahara, the two parties reaffirmed their “commitment to achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, on the basis of the UN regulation which provides for the right to self-determination of the Sahrawi people, in accordance with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations. They also reaffirmed their full support for the efforts of the Personal Envoy of the United Nations Secretary General, Staffan de Mistura, as well as for MINURSO. Furthermore, the United Kingdom expressed its intention to support the priorities of Algeria during and after its mandate as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council related to stability, security, human rights, the situation in the Sahel region and changes unconstitutional actions of governments in the region.
As an extension of the government strategic dialogue, the Algerian-British Business Council (ABBC) held its annual meeting on 23 November 2023 at the House of Lords in London, under the patronage of Baroness Symons, a friend of Algeria, and President of the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce. In addition to the ambassadors of Algeria in London and of the United Kingdom in Algiers, business leaders and large international group’s representatives, experts and key opinion leaders were present at this annual meeting, which has become a traditional event. The meeting allowed the various speakers to measure the progress made by Algerian-British relations in recent years and to project themselves into a very promising future.
Lady Olga Maitland, co-founder and Chairperson of ABBC, spoke with great enthusiasm about the growing place of her country in the Algerian economy and the anchoring of the English language in the Algerian education system. She underlined that: “…. Algeria is a large modern state which has taken off, is developing in all areas and which offers infinite opportunities….” Recalling that Queen Elizabeth II had paid a visit to Algeria in 1980, the Chairperson of ABBC expressed the wish to see the current sovereign Charles III follow the example of his mother.
Baroness Symons, for her part, praised “…..the remarkable partnership and the flourishing relationship of friendship which have been established between Algeria and the United Kingdom…”, and expressed her conviction that : “…the mechanisms and milestones put in place will allow this multidimensional partnership to expand and touch all cutting-edge sectors without exception, citing the fields of artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and digital ….” She also welcomed the decision of the leaders of the two countries to establish a strategic dialogue calling on the Algerian authorities to “…take advantage of the measure decided by the British Government to lift the barriers customs duties on Algerian products…” Finally, she called for Algeria’s active participation in the next United Kingdom-Africa Summit, scheduled for 2024 “…because of its weight and its role on the continent,” she highlighted.
Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, held by his ministerial obligations, had a message read by the Ambassador of the United Kingdom in Algiers, Sharon Wardle, to: “….reiterate the support of the British Government for the fundamental work being done for the benefit of the people of the two countries…” The minister, who hopes to be able to visit Algeria in the near future, expressed his great satisfaction with the results of the recent visit to London by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ahmed Attaf. Lord Ahmad also welcomed the quality of the discussions he had with the minister, both during the work of the 2nd session of the strategic dialogue and during the consultative meeting on the Security Council, organized in Wilton Park, wishing “…..close collaboration within this United Nations body where Algeria will sit from January 2024…”
Taking his turn to speak, the Ambassador of Algeria in London, Mr. Nourredine Yazid, underlined and expressed his satisfaction to see that the two countries “….already enjoy an excellent relationship…. and that the engaged Strategic Dialogue gives a certain impetus to economic exchanges… ” He noted the enthusiasm shown for the promotion of a solid relationship between the economic actors of the two countries and the growth of 40%, in 2023, of the volume of trade which reached Three billion Pounds Sterling.
In short and according to my perspective, “Brexit” which opened the door of re-conquering traditional Commonwealth markets and conquering new markets in emerging countries (Asia, Africa, MENA), would be an opportunity to be seized for the British Government and the British business community to fully invest in Algeria with regard to the reshaping of the geopolitical and geo-economic map of the Mediterranean region and African continent.
by Dr. Arslan Chikhaoui, expert in geopolitics, and founding member of the Algerian-British Business Council (ABBC)