Interview with Mr. Rachid Sator,Minister Counselor Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Algeria in Madrid.
13 junio, 2014
This year was highlighted by several important events such as: the presidential elections, social changes and development based on considerable human and natural resources, and a privileged geostrategic position that can allow Algeria to win a role as a regional leader. Last Thursday, we had the honor to interview Sir Rachid Sator, Minister Counselor at the embassy of Algeria in Madrid.
The context was propitious to questions related to diplomacy, as we were in the embassy with the Algerian diplomat. First, I asked him about the bilateral relations between Algeria and Spain, he answered that they are positive for both countries and adding that Algeria and Spain are going through a rapid growth “ there are several visits and delegations in different fields : economic, political and diplomatic ”. Then, my second question was about the cultural exchange. Without any hesitation, he said that it is very closed and dynamic, arguing that the geographical proximity is one reason because Algeria and Spain are separated few kilometers by the Mediterranean Sea. In addition, they have a historical link. He explained that some cities of Algeria had been colonized for nearly two hundred years. Giving the example of Oran, the second most important city after Algiers, this is still considered as the most Hispanic city in Africa by the Spanish people themselves. Furthermore, Santa Cruz ford is its famous symbol. There are large human interactions between both countries that have been developed over the centuries. Therefore, there is a brewing cultural exchange. Later, I asked him about the Algerian position between the Arab countries. He answered that Regarding the Arab world; Algeria is a full member of the Arab league which regroups countries of the Middle East and the Maghreb. Arabic is its official language within its borders, even though it has a particularism compared to the Arab countries. Indeed, the Algerian society is composed by different ethnic groups who share their own dialect “les Kabyles” for example. During the interview, Sir Rachid Sator spoke about the Arab spring which has shacked the Arab world “In 2011, several popular revolutions affected an entire system, Algeria was certainly saved because the reforms begun in 1988, which led to the establishment of a political plurality. Regarding freedom of expression, you can open a newspaper and see caricatures about the Algerian president and political officials. Nowadays, the media landscape is very rich created by a large freedom of expression. The political field today is constituted of 30% of women either at the assembled elected officials, national or communal level.
The question about the future of the Algerian oil resources was crucial. Indeed, a decline in hydrocarbon production was officially announced by the Prime Minister, Malek Sellal. The oil resources which remain the main economic resource of the country are threatened of extinction in the next 15 years. The Algerian government is forced to find another solution in order to save its own economy, by changing its hydrocarbon law in January 2013 to open the way to the exploitation of unconventional energy resources. According to the report of the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the country holds the third largest recoverable shale gas reserves in the world. Therefore, shale gas seems to be a good issue for the country, not only to meet the rising annual local demand for energy, but also to cover the total public expenditure, the cost of social transfers and to guarantee the continuation of subsidies on basic commodities, which represent 30% of the total budget. According to the Minister counselor Rachid Sator, in 2014, the trend is using the same mono-exporting system; Algeria must face the facts that fossil fuels will disappear one day or another, we must substitute the status of mono exporter, and Algeria has enough means. “Concerning the exploitation Shale Gas, if the extraction method is not harmful and dangerous for people and the environment. Then why not? If you have a wealth under your feet and you can use it without major damage, I do not see any state that will refuse to take the risk”.
A huge development is being done in terms of agriculture, industry and tourism. The Algerian government is working in order to replace oil exploitations by other energy sources such as solar energy and wind energy.” Our Sahara could allow a potential solar energy exploitation, 12mounths/ 12 of warm weather and it is an unconventional energy that can last forever”. Sir Rachid Sator added “Actually, which is essential; is to change the mono exporter structure and be more competitive in terms of agriculture because Algeria has a temperate climate. Concerning tourism, we are developing it continuously. Most of the Algerian youth have high level of study. The access to education is accessible and free. Young graduate people can create their own businesses, and of course, sometimes it requires a help from the states.”
The last part of the interview was dedicated to the refugee issue. Lebanon is facing a crucial refugee crisis since the beginning of the civil war in Syria and the deterioration in Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Minister Counselor answered that “In diplomacy, the refugee crisis is called: collateral damage. Because of the Palestinian issue that unfortunately has not find a solution, over 3, 6 million Palestinians live outside their country. As the international community has the means to exert pressure on Israel, it is necessary to collaborate and discuss in order to find a solution to this perpetual conflict. Concerning Syria, it is experiencing a civil war, an end to this conflict can only pass through dialogue, it will not resolve by itself.”
Assia Meghfour Lacheheb