French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday said that the rise of anti-French sentiment in the African countries was sparked by Russia and Turkey, which speculate on the French colonial history.

"For decades, we had highly institutionalised relations with Africa, including the incumbent heads of state and reputable companies. However, the resentment played a certain role. But there is a strategy as well, which is sometimes implemented by the African leaders, but especially foreign states, such as Russia and Turkey, which play on post colonial resentment”, the president said in an interview with pan-African Jeune Afrique magazine.

Macron alleged that a number of French-language mass media that criticise France were corrupted by Russia or Turkey. According to the president, France and the African countries should maintain friendly relations despite the French colonial past.

"Our country was present on the continent through trade, conflicts since the early 19th century, then the colonial wars. This history exists. We are its successors. Were we the participants? No… We should not remain the captives of our past. It would be horrible", Macron said.

France began the colonisation of Africa in the 16th century and gained control of almost half of the continent by 1920. The last French colony in Africa — Somaliland — became a sovereign state in 1977 and is currently known as Djibouti. 

African countries are still greatly affected by French influence. Over 1,100 French companies operate in Africa and provide roughly 470,000 jobs to the African population. Roughly 5,000 French servicemen are deployed in former colonies Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger under Barkhane operation, which was launched by Paris in 2014 to counter Islamist groups in the African region of Sahel but did not result in an improved security situation.