France president proposes ‘autonomy’ for island of Corsica

France President Emmanuel Macron has set a deadline of six months for Paris and Corsica politicians to agree on a new law that would amend the island’s autonomous status. – EPA pic, September 28, 2023.

FRANCE President Emmanuel Macron today proposed to give a form of autonomy to the Mediterranean island of Corsica, a region that often chafed at rule from Paris.

“We should have the courage to establish a form of autonomy for Corsica within France,” Macron told the island’s parliament in Ajaccio, which was currently controlled by nationalists.

“We would all be failing if we left things as they are,” he added.

Corsica shot to the top of the French political agenda last year when widespread violence broke out over the killing of Yvan Colonna in a mainland prison.

The independence fighter – jailed for life over the 1998 murder of the region’s prefect Claude Erignac – was stabbed to death by another inmate.

Colona’s killing triggered “unbelievable violence that brought Corsica to the brink of widespread conflict”, the island’s executive Gilles Simeoni told the president.

Corsicans have long wanted more say on their own affairs, as well as official status for their language and protection from outsiders buying up land – two thorny requests Paris was reluctant to grant.

“Corsica must ... become the autonomous territory it ought to be,” regional parliament speaker Marie-Antoinette Maupertuis told Macron ahead of his speech.

The island’s youth especially “feel hugely dispossessed”, she said.

Macron vowed to introduce legislation that would “fully anchor Corsica in the French republic, and recognise the uniqueness of its Mediterranean island nature and its relationship with the world”.

He set a deadline of six months for the island’s politicians to reach agreement with Paris on a new law that would change the French constitution to amend Corsica’s status.

“There are no red lines, just the ideals of the republic,” Macron said. – AFP, September 28, 2023.

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