Mon. Dec 4th, 2023

The proposal comes more than a year after the Mediterranean island saw riots over the killing of independence fighter Yvan Colonna.

French President Emmanuel Macron has proposed to give a form of autonomy to the Mediterranean island of Corsica.

The proposal came on Thursday, more than a year after widespread violence broke out over the killing in a mainland prison of independence fighter Yvan Colonna.

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

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

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

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

Thorny requests

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 that Paris is reluctant to grant.

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

French President Emmanuel Macron shakes hands with Corsican Assembly president Marie-Antoinette Maupertuis before addressing the Corsican Assembly in Ajaccio
Macron shakes hands with Corsican Assembly President Marie-Antoinette Maupertuis [Pascal Pochard-Casabianca/Pool via AP]

The island’s young people especially “feel hugely dispossessed”, she added.

Macron promised 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 an 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 added.

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By Joy

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