Algeria Appeals for EU Aid to Restore Normality
Algeria appealed to the European Union on Friday for support and solidarity in its efforts to restore internal security and normality to the lives of thousands of victims of eight years' civil strife.
Foreign Minister Youcef Yousfi appealed "for support and solidarity required to accelerate the process of restoring total security in our country and to improve the situation of victims of terrorism."
"We hope that Europe in a gesture of solidarity will give us urgent assistance in rehabilitating areas affected by terrorism," he stressed at a meeting here with three EU officials.
Armed Muslim fundamentalists have reportedly launched a bloody insurgency since the January 1992 cancellation of the second round of general elections the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) was set to win.
In all, at least 100,000 people have been killed since the start of the uprising.
The minister met officials representing Portugal, currently holding the rotating six-month presidency of the 15-nation European Union, the previous president Finland, and France, which takes over in July.
The Algerian appealed for "financial, technical and expert support to launch an economic partnership of mutual benefit."
He stressed the heavy destruction of economic and social infrastructure in which hundreds of thousands had been driven from their villages.
Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama said in reply the subject would receive specific treament in the framework of negotiations on an association agreement between the European Union and Algeria. The negotiations were resumed last month after being interrupted due to the Algerian political situation.
Recalling that the European Union was already providing credits through its European Investment Bank, Gama also expressed satisfsaction at the program of national reconciliation introduced in Algeria by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Bouteflika, elected in April last year, introduced a "civil reconciliation" program, including an amnesty law in effect between last July and last January which totally or partially pardoned extremists deemed not to have perpetrated crimes of violence or rape, or to have placed the bombs in public places.
But none of these moves have yet succeeded in restoring peace in Algeria, still the scene of almost-daily ambushes and massacres, as well as shootouts between extremists and government forces.
Since the amnesty expired on January 13, more than 800 people have been killed, including 150 armed extremists, according to figures compiled from the press -- LISBON (AFP)
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