By Hana Saada

Bright horizons for deeply-rooted Iranian-Algerian relations with both sides considering no limit for cooperation

October 6, 2019 - 14:8

The newly-appointed Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Democratic People’s Republic of Algeria Hossein Mashalchizadeh held a series of meetings with Algeria’s high-ranked officials with a view to explore avenues for bolstering and reinvigorating all-out bilateral cooperation.

The Iranian Diplomat held a meeting with the Algerian Commerce Minister Said Djelab, during which both sides put forward the deep and solid friendship between the two brotherly countries, expressing the will of their countries to further work for their consolidation and strengthening, especially in the economic field in the best interests of both peoples. 

 Welcoming the level of bilateral cooperation in the various spheres, both officials noted that this cooperation has initiated a new era given the deep links binding both countries, wishing its promotion at a higher level, through the conclusion of joint projects as well as the exchange of expertises and experiences as well as the participation of both countries’ delegations at exhibitions promoting local products.

In the same vein, the Iranian Envoy met with the Minister of Communication, Government’s Spokesman and Acting Minister of Culture, Hassan Rebahi.

After highlighting the fraternal relations between Algeria and Iran, both sides called for the intensification of efforts to further promote cooperation at the highest level, in accordance with the will of the leaders of the two countries and on the basis of their converging positions on numbers of causes.

With respect to communication aspect, they welcomed the level of the cooperation binding both countries, highlighting the need to further expand media cooperation and the exchange of press technology and expertise between both countries given the great role assigned to news agencies in terms of helping to realize a better knowledge of others in order to overcome the great deficiency in Muslim world, especially nowadays when our world is facing biased media of the World Arrogance and need to make more efforts to introduce and prove righteousness of its positions.

Highlighting the potentials and energies of these countries, they called to speed up the pace of exchange of delegations of journalists, adding that the exchange of information in both countries can provide fertile ground for the development of cultural and diplomatic ties as well as scientific, economic, commercial and cultural cooperation, which is supported by the existence of common will among the leaders of the two countries. The spotlight was placed also on the need to ink MoUs between both countries’ news agencies.

It is worth mentioning that National news agency Algeria Press Service (APS) and Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) signed, in 2018, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on news exchange.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by “APS” Director General, Abdelhamid Kacha, and IRNA Agency Director General, Seyed Zia Hachémi.

During the signing ceremony, both parties agreed to exchange information services (information, photos, videos and computer graphics) as well as to carry out joint projects, affirming that grounds for expansion of professional cooperation between the two news agencies are well prepared.

Before the signing ceremony, IRNA agency Director General paid a visit to the various departments of the APS, where he received explanations on the activities of the Agency and the processing of information, meanwhile, MR. Hashemi expressed his admiration for the “organization” of these services.

On the other hand, Algerian delegations frequently pay visits to Iran with a view to usher in good cooperation between the two media for strengthening and expanding Iran-Algeria relations.

The opening of IRNA bureau in Algeria was, repeatedly, arisen by Algerian visiting delegations. Director General of the Algerian news agency APS Abdelhamid Kacha, Managing Director of ‘Al-Khabar” newspaper Kamal Jouzi and Managing Director of “Al-Khabar “TV network Ali Jari, stressed, in different visits, that the opening of IRNA news bureau in Algiers and the exchange of reporters and media persons will help broaden cultural affinities between the two sides.

As long as culture is concerned, the Iranian Diplomat and the Algerian Acting Culture Minister hailed the cultural cooperation exiting between both countries, calling for its broadening into other fields such as; theater, music and literature.

A movie on Ahmed Bey (c. 1784-1850), the last Ottoman ruler of Algiers is co-produced by Algeria and Iran. Iranian filmmaker Jamal Shurjeh is the film’s director and the costumes and film sets have been designed by Iranian experts. The Iranian cineaste Danesh Eqbashavi, is, also, collaborating on the film, directing the war scenes for “Ahmed Bey”. An Iranian team will give consultation on the stunt, make-up, shooting and sound-on-film.

The film, depicting Ahmed Bey’s life from 1826 to 1848 when he ruled the Regency of Algiers, laid grounds for more cooperation between Tehran and Algiers in various fields related to cinema and arts.

This experience is highly appreciated by the Algerian side, as expressed by the former Culture Minister Azzedine Mihoubi, who considered this joint project of film-making with Iran as an opportunity for getting familiar with the Iranian cinema style as well as exchanging cultural knowledge between the two countries.

Algeria, for its part, is eager to introduce Algerian culture and art to Iranian people, participating in different exhibitions, lastly few months ago, an Algerian Cultural Exhibition was held at Melal Cultural Center, with a view to make people of the two countries more familiar with each other’s cultures, customs and traditions. Works of visual and traditional arts (Watercolor, oil paint, acrylic painting, miniature, painting on sand, ceramic panels, etc.) and handicraft were displayed, illustrating to Iranians the historical aspects and life of the people of Algeria.
On the other hand, different Iranian cultural exhibitions took place in Algeria to get the Algerians familiar with Iran’s culture and art.
Several major cultural and art fairs are frequently organized by Iran’s embassy in Algeria, such as: the one held last year in Blida province, located about 45 km south-west of Algiers, and 10th Intl. Festival of Calligraphy, Miniatures Exhibition with prominent Iranian artists in attendance, where they were warmly honored.
 Screening Iranian films and documentaries, holding calligraphy workshops, performing Iranian music, introducing Iranian food and confectionery, introducing Iranian science, tourism and historical attractions and displaying films are always on the agendas of the exhibitions’ programs, international book fairs and cultural weeks which help the two nations get more acquainted with the cultural identity and tradition of one another.
Last May, Algerians discovered for a week the Iranian movies following a government initiative to diversify cinematographic products. An Iranian Film Week was held in Algeria in order to present Persian culture and cinema to the African country's public.

Prominent Iranian film directors, namely; Seyyed Reza Mirkarimi and Kamal Tabrizi attended the event where a number of Iranian films were screened; such as; A Cube of Sugar by Reza Mirkarimi, About Eli by Asghar Farhadi, A Piece of Bread by Kamal Tabrizi and Mainline by Rakhshan Bani-Etemad. Different cultural panels about Iranian cinema were also held on the sidelines of the event with Algerian directors and producers.

The Iranian Ambassador was received, also, by the Minister of Relations with Parliament Fathi Khouil. During their meeting, both sides emphasized the need to boost parliamentary cooperation through the exchange of delegations and the activation of Algeria-Iran parliamentary friendship group, reiterating that parliamentary diplomacy can help reinforcing peace and stability and fostering talks to remove tensions and settle the regional crises.

On January 10, 2019, Algeria-Iran parliamentary friendship group was set up at the headquarters of Algeria’s People’s National Assembly ( Parliament’s Lower House) in Algiers with a view to consolidate and strengthen parliamentary relations in accordance with the provisions of a framework for joint activities, especially in the parliamentary arena.

For his part, Algerian Religious Affairs and Endowment Minister Youssef  Belmahdi granted the Iranian Diplomat a meeting, during which both sides hailed the brotherly relations between the two Muslim countries, underlining the necessity of strengthening them in various fields.

The religious cooperation and exchange between both countries is experiencing a glare with meetings between religious scholars from Algeria and Iran taking place frequently. Earlier, an agreement was inked, in Algiers, between the President of High Islamic Council, Bouabdellah Ghlamallah, and Iran’s Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Reza Salehi Amiri, which aimed at finding means of preventing and fighting Takfiri and extremist groups, as well as rescuing the Islamic world from the crisis being experienced.

In addition, Algeria expresses admiration for Tehran’s International Holy Quran Exhibition held each year, describing it as a big, major religious display in the global arena that has contributed to Muslims solidarity.

 ‘The Zionist regime’s plots against the Muslim world have caused division among the Muslim countries; however, the Islamic Republic of Iran has played a role in making the Muslim nations united by holding an international exhibition of Holy Quran,’ Algerian Ambassador to Iran Abdel Moun’aam Ahriz told the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). 

Besides, hand-woven Persian carpets covering an area of 12,000 square meters are decorating the Grand Mosque of Algiers (world’s third largest mosque, also known Djamaa El Djazair mosque, to be completed in Algeria).

Earlier, Algeria’s the then Minister of Religious Affairs and Endowments Mohamed Aissa said that his ministry received the first batch of the carpets, made up of 539 pieces at the end of 2014, in a contractual framework with the Waqfs or Endowments Foundation.

According to IRNA news agency, the carpets were purchased by an Algerian businessman with a price tag of €6 million from Iranian cities of Naeen and Kashan with a view to add a unique touch to this tremendous cultural and architectural project.

Earlier and following the handing of his credentials, His Excellency Hossein Mashalchizadeh held a meeting with the Algerian Head of State Abdelkader Bensalah, during which, he described relations binding Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Algeria as friendly, emphasizing the determination of the Islamic Republic for strengthening and expanding relations in various fields with Algiers.

For his part, Bensaleh conveyed his warmest greetings to his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhan, wishing evermore success for the ambassador in his new post in line with strengthening bilateral ties.

The Iranian Ambassador held another meeting with the foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum, during which bilateral relations and means to further boost them in the best interests of the two brotherly countries and peoples have been reviewed. In addition, the latest developments in the region have been discussed.

Mashalchizadeh replaced Reza Ameri, former Iranian Ambassador to Algeria.

Iran and Algeria enjoy constructive relations with bilateral cooperation increasing since the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries in September 2000. Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad expressed, in 2007, Iran’s determination to remove all obstacles to developing economic ties between Iran and Algeria.

Over 2008, bilateral trade between Algeria and Iran doubled from $25 million in 2007 to $50 million. In addition to bilateral trade in commercial good, Iran and Algeria have inked up to 70 agreements and MoUs in different fields, to wit, inter alia, energy, industry, banking, agricultural industries, mining, energy, justice, education, tourism, and art.. etc.

Iran and Algeria, respectively the world’s second and seventh largest natural gas reserve holders also want to share expertise in various areas of gas including production, marketing and the liquefied natural gas (LNG) business.

Talks were launched to buy Algeria’s phosphate, a move welcomed by the Algerian side as the then Algerian Energy Minister Yousfi responded favorably, proposing that companies in both countries get together to discuss the details in order to reach agreements to facilitate the exporting of Algerian phosphate to Iran.

In July 2008, Iran and Algeria announced plans to build a joint cement plant in Algeria worth nearly $300 million, thus greatly increasing their industrial cooperation.

With respect to automotive industry, many agreements between the Algerian group Tahkout and Iranian car manufacturer Saipa for the establishment of a great complex, with an implementation cost amounts USD 300 to million, made up of fifteen factories in Tiaret, west of Algiers, were inked.

The Iranian party is contributing with its technological expertise in the manufacturing of cars running on CGN.

Another automotive industry agreement has been signed between private group Rahmouni and Khodro manufacturer for the assembling of cars in Algeria.

Besides, Iran’s major tire producer Yazd Tire concluded an export deal with Renault’s Algerian operations to export 50,000 tires produced by the company in central Iran to Algeria.

Furthermore and covering different fields, a draft agreement between Algeria’s Geological Survey Agency and its Iranian counterpart was inked to establish a cooperation framework in the mining research. 

In this regard, the Algerian standardization institute (IANOR) signed a draft agreement with its Iranian counterpart to ease trade exchange between Algeria and Iran while bringing closer both countries’ standards.

The Algerian Company of Fairs and Exhibitions (Safex) and the Iranian Agency for Foreign Trade signed an agreement to facilitate Algeria’s participation in Iranian exhibitions and shows, and vice-versa.

 A MoU on the production of drugs and medical equipment was signed by the then Director of Pharmacy and Medical Equipment at the ministry of Health, Population and the Hospital Reform Hamou Hafedh and Iran’s Deputy-Minister and President of the Organization of Food and Drugs Rasoul Dinar Kand. It relates to the manufacturing of vaccines and serums in Algeria.

Another MoU was inked from the Algerian side by the then Director General of Frater-Razes Labs Abdelhamid Cherfaoui and from the Iranian side by Director of Baboush lab Darou Khir Abadi on the manufacturing of biotech drugs.

In 2017, eight cooperation deals, covering different fields, were inked during the Second Joint Iran-Algeria Economic Cooperation Commission presided by First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri and Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Salal with a number of the two countries’ cabinets in attendance.

The first deal signed by the two sides pertains to education. Other documents included cooperation agreement between the two countries’ youth and sports ministries during 2015-2017, technical collaboration deal between their labor ministries as well as cultural cooperation deal between the culture ministries.

The two countries’ higher education and justice ministries also signed relevant deals.

Relations between central banks of the two countries picked up in the recent years coinciding with the exchange between high-ranking banking officials from Iran and Algeria. At present, central banks of the two countries are interrelated and obstacles related to issuing purchase and sale contracts have been removed through serious follow-ups.

As regards tourism; some Iranian travel agencies are in touch with their Algerian counterparts with a view to boost tourism cooperation for the acquaintance of the two nations with each other’s history and civilization.

Politically, Iran and Algeria hold regular talks on bilateral, regional and international issues. Regular meetings between the two foreign ministries’ officials, high-ranked delegations within the framework of relations and regular consultations are taking place. Their brotherly relations are deeply rooted and go back to the 1960s. Soon after Algeria’s independence from France in 1962, Iran was among the first countries to recognize it as an independent nation, opening the Iranian embassy in autumn of 1964, in Algiers.

For its part, Algeria, as a mediator, led the initiative to address the border dispute between Iran and Iraq in 1975. It hosted a meeting with the Iranian and Iraqi officials in attendance that led to the signing of a deal known as “the Algiers Agreement”.

Following the victory of 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, bilateral ties between the two nations developed and the two countries intensified meetings and exchanges culminating in the adoption of similar stances on an array of international issues, particularly the problems faced by the World of Islam like the ones in Palestine and Syria. Algeria is one of countries which have independent positions close to those of Iran on many issues, including in terms of its political literature.

Another accord was inked between Iran and the USA due to the mediation of Algeria during the US embassy takeover in Tehran. Algiers Accord became another cause for better ties between Iran and Algeria. However, both counties’ relations experienced some ups and downs. Yet, in the wake of the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000, Tehran and Algiers resumed diplomatic relations and since then these relations keep flourishing, maintaining common approaches to regional and international issues. Algeria opposed the Arab League members on giving the Syrian seat in the League to the Syrian opposition, and Algiers resisted taking any kind of military action in Syria, and as for Hezbollah and Hamas, Algeria objected putting their names on the terrorist group list in the Arab League.

Since the very beginning of the nuclear talks and even before the conclusion of the JCPOA, Algeria was positive about Iran's peaceful nuclear activities and constantly and explicitly defended Iran's right in international bodies. Following the implementation of the nuclear deal finalized by Iran and six world powers in July 2015, known as the JCPOA, Algeria considered the deal as an important stage in the process of the settlement of the tension and crisis situations, in a view to preserving international peace and security, and development in the benefit of all the peoples.

Algiers had, in 2015, received the first vice president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Eshaq Jahangiri, just after expressing refusal to join the Saudi coalition. The beginning of a deeper cooperation between the two countries is, therefore, also a clear message sent to Riyadh: Algiers wants to diversify its cooperation with Iran, avoiding getting into a diplomatic game that would be dictated by the Americans. Iran’s Hassan Rouhani said the two countries have always backed each other in difficult times and today, whereas the Algerian side stressed that Tehran-Algiers relations would witness further expansion in all domains during the new Algerian administration’s tenure.

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