The luncheon reception hosted by Ambassador Mohammed El Amine Derragui and Mrs. Derragui at the Lotte Hotel in Seoul to mark the National Day of Algeria on Nov. 4, 2017 is entirely different from other diplomatic functions.
While speaking to the guests, Ambassador Derragui was so emotion-stricken that he could not continue his speech in the Algerian language while the audience, mostly members of the Algerian community in Seoul, completely shared the sorrow feelings of the speaker (Ambassador Derragui).
Ambassador Derragui was recalling the saddest and most tragic incident in his country where one and half a million Algerians were murdered by an external invasion force.
The sorrowful ambience came pat to the Korean people who also had a painful period of experience during the 36 years of occupation and slavery by the Imperial Japan until her liberation by the United States and the Allied Forces against Japan on Aug. 15, 1945 following Japan’s surrender to the U.S. and other members of the Allied Forces during World War II.
Turning to the relations between Korea and Algeria, Ambassador Derragui said: “Even though South Korea is only recently known to Algerian people, the Algerians are impressed by the level of economic development attained by the Republic of Korea only in few decades, relying on a strong political will and social cohesion that allowed South Korea to be a member of the G20 and the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, two clubs of the wealthiest countries in the World.” (See excerpts from the speech of the ambassador at the end of this article.)
The reception was attended mostly by the Algerian residents in Seoul as well as the Embassy officers with their Korean friends.
Among the Korean guests in attendance were representative figures from various segments of Korean society. From the media world in Korea came Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post.
Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador:
The celebration of the 63rd anniversary of the launching of the Algerian struggle for Independence and freedom gives is a great opportunity to remember the sacrifices made by a million and half martyrs to restore Algeria’s sovereignty, after more than 130 years of occupation and seven years of a bloody war. The independence of Algeria was considered by the whole international community as the victory of the quest for people’s dignity and courage upon servitude.
Looking back at the achievements made by Algeria since its independence in 1962, one can only recognize the huge qualitative and quantitative improvements. Algeria experienced socioeconomic development and welfare based on the reduction of social tensions through fighting exclusion and poverty, enhancing agricultural and industrial production and reinforcing the social dialogue.
Under the high patronage of the President of the Republic M. Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Head of State since April 1999, Algeria experienced important changes and evolutions, be it on the economic scale or sociopolitical scale. Democracy and respect for human rights were rooted in a strategy of national reconciliation and civil concord to end the bloody stalemate that occurred in the country during the nineties. On the economic field, the programs of revitalization of economy saw important growth and shared prosperity emphasizing on youth employment and social order.
The last couple of years experienced important political reforms based on the lifting of the state of emergency and the adoption of organic laws on political parties, electoral regime, associations, information, and enhancement of women representation in the elected assemblies. All this law enforcement allowed the sustaining of the democratic governance and culminated in the new amendments of the Constitution in 2016.
The new version of the Constitution recognizes the Tamazight (Berber language) as an official language, limited the number of presidential terms and reinforced the freedom of press and the civic, economic, social and cultural rights. Algeria is one of the most advanced country of the Muslim world and Arab nations, regarding women’s rights and freedom of press.
After a period of upheavals and sociopolitical turmoil, Peace and stability were restored that permitted the amelioration of democracy and respect of human rights. Socioeconomic development reached a good level and Algeria matched the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations.
Even though South Korea is only recently known to Algerian people, the Algerians are impressed by the level of economic development attained by the Republic of Korea only in few decades, relying on a strong political will and social cohesion that allowed South Korea to be a member of the G20 and the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, two clubs of the wealthiest countries in the World.
Even if the geographical distance and language barriers prevented interactions and exchanges between them, Algeria and South Korea saw the development of fruitful relations of friendship, cooperation and solidarity since the establishment of official relations. Our two countries are strategic partners since March 2006 making Algeria the only African country linked by a strategic partnership to South Korea.
It is true that the establishment of diplomatic relations between Algeria and South Korea is quite recent (January 1990) but the trade exchanges and the economic cooperation has reached an appreciable level, deemed to growth in the future. South Korea proved to be one of the key partners of the Algeria on the path of socioeconomic diversification and industrial growth.
Firmly attached to international and regional peace and stability, Algeria and South Korea are committed to mutual understanding and collaboration in all fields.