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The Algerian Mirror

Sébastien Fagart - Alger, Algérie - date fmt jour mois annee

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I am the Press and communication officer at the French embassy in Algeria. My job is to spotlight, regardless of taboos and prejudice, the rich ties between the Algerian and French societies and the daily work of all those who work to develop the relationship between our two countries.

“Algiers the White” appears on the horizon on a clear August day, after an 18-hour crossing. Notre-Dame d’Afrique (Our Lady of Africa), the twin basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde (Our Lady of the Guard) in Marseille, is silhouetted against the sky. The Che Guevara Boulevard, lined with European-style buildings, stretches along the port over graceful arcades.

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Le port d’Alger en août 2012 / Photo SF

A few months ago, I received confirmation of my appointment as Press and Communication Counsellor at the French embassy in Algiers. A fellow diplomat from the Quai d’Orsay had finally succeeded in persuading me to take up the post : “Things are not always simple there,” he said to me, “but you and your little family will enjoy Algiers very much.” However puzzling this statement may have been, the future definitely proved it right.

A rich context

When I arrived at the end of August 2012, the context was especially conducive to renewed communication, since the President of the French Republic had decided to go to Algeria on his first State visit, which suggested a strengthening of the ties between our two countries. Moreover, I soon realized that the embassy staff, as well as many local French and Algerian residents, were mobilizing strongly to advance the Algerian-French relationship.

The various offices of the Institut français d’Algérie - IFA (French Institute in Algeria) were highly active in offering the public enriching activities and French language training. Significant work was carried out at the Consulate General to provide quality public service to French nationals and facilitate the processing of visa applications, not to mention the various yearly Ubifrance operations to assist French companies in concluding partnerships in Algeria. The key role of the Press and Communication Department is to advertise these numerous actions in all areas.

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La page Facebook de l’Ambassade

Feeling the pulse of Algerian society

Social networks are a highly effective tool. While they make it possible to take the pulse of society and communicate beyond our traditional audience, they also give us the opportunity to talk about our country from a different viewpoint and optimize efforts to improve the life of so many French and Algerians. 4.5 million people use Facebook in Algeria.

Is it surprising, therefore, that the number of likes on the Facebook page of the embassy has increased forty-fold in 18 months to 86,000 ? The embassy website, press releases, the Twitter account, the quarterly newsletter started a year ago and all online communication tools in French and Arabic are being mobilized to create links with the public and tell success stories, while remaining alert to the hottest topics and developments on the Web. The arrival of 3G in Algeria in December 2013 has made this challenge all the more crucial.

Helping strengthen the political dialogue

The French President’s State visit, the many visits by ministers and members of parliament, and the holding of the first meeting of the High Level Inter-Ministerial Committee (CIMIN) in December 2013 have raised political dialogue to an unprecedented level. But one’s never entirely successful. It is therefore crucial to support this “new era” through constant communication.

In this respect, photographs are a superb tool to illustrate the depth of exchanges between France and Algeria, official visits, the ambassador’s trips in the country, the role of our companies in the fields of training and job creation, as well as the many cultural activities. And thanks to the creation of the “Canal IFA” website at the instigation of the French Institute in Algeria (IFA), video is also becoming one of our preferred tools.

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La newsletter de l’ambassade

To re-enchant the Franco-Algerian relationship is an endless task, yet it is so stimulating and so hoped for by all those in both countries who wish to build a balanced relationship between them. Three days after my arrival, an Algerian I passed at a street corner summed up the special charm of the relationship between France and Algeria as an “unfinished romance”.

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