Interview: Mourad Medelci

What potential is there for the development of strategic partnerships with the UK?

MOURAD MEDELCI: Algeria and the UK maintain privileged and solid relations. This relationship is consolidated by a bilateral mechanism set up in 2006, known as the Committee on Bilateral Relations. Its seventh session was held in Algiers in 2013, and the eighth session is scheduled in London for 2014. Frequent meetings between senior Algerian and British officials in the last two years are testament to the interest granted by authorities of both countries to mutual agreements on political, security and economic aspects.

In this regard, the security situation in the Sahel region has deteriorated significantly following the crisis in northern Mali. In addition, Algeria was the target of a terrorist attack on the site of Tiguentourine at In Amenas in January 2013. David Cameron’s visit to Algeria following the attack was seen as a sign of solidarity, showing the willingness of the British authorities to strengthen their cooperation in terms of security and the fight against terrorism. The two parties agreed on the establishment of the Strategic Partnership Committee on security between Algeria and the UK, and the committee’s first meeting was held in London in April 2013.

Regarding the economic component, energy cooperation is the backbone of the relationship between Algeria and UK. Partnership schemes are on the agenda in several sectors such as pharmaceuticals, health, finance, technology and services. In the future we would like to see more traders and British business leaders come to invest in Algeria, particularly in the non-hydrocarbons sectors.

How can international partnerships related to security issues be strengthened?

MEDELCI: Now, more than ever, security and development must be the bottom line of any strategy for regional and international cooperation. Algeria will continue to work with the UN, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States and other partners to consolidate the process of stabilisation in Mali and in the Sahel region. With all involved countries, Algeria tries to capitalise on the experience of a common perception of risks and threats, as well as the operational fight against terrorist groups and cross-border traffickers. This resulted in 2010 in the creation of a Joint Operational Staff Committee and the Fusion and Liaison Unit.

With member countries of the Arab Maghreb Union, the Algerian initiatives for countering terrorism, organised crime networks and drugs, combined with efforts to reduce religious extremism, led to a roadmap adopted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in July 2012 to discuss “Security in the Maghreb Region”. Similarly, the heads of government in Algeria, Tunisia and Libya have agreed to several measures to secure the borders.

How can the relevance of the 5+5 Mediterranean Dialogue be strengthened?

MEDELCI: Several meetings were held recently in Algeria addressing topics such as food and transport security, terrorism and the fight against organised crime, the fight against illegal migration, cooperation in the field of civil protection and local communities, and the attraction of foreign direct investment. Recent changes experienced by countries in the Western Mediterranean region and the political and socio-economic challenges that they are facing confirm the usefulness of this framework.

In accordance with the decisions of the 10th Conference of Foreign Affairs, which was held in Nouakchott in April 2013, cooperation within the 5+5 Dialogue will be called upon to expand to other areas such as youth, health, water, training of women, higher education and scientific research. Particular emphasis in this regard will be placed on the participation of actors such as civil society, parliamentarians, businessmen and private sector companies.