The French president acknowledged the Mediterranean island would remain “within the [French] republic” French President Emmanuel Macron (L) shakes hands with President of the Executive Council of Corsica Gilles Simeoni © AFP / Pascal Pachard Casabianca
French President Emmanuel Macron proposed an incremental step toward limited self-rule to the elected assembly of Corsica during a visit to the Mediterranean island on Thursday.
“Let us have the audacity to build a Corsican autonomy within the republic [of France],” Macron told the island’s Regional Assembly in Ajaccio in a speech he described as “an outstretched hand.”
In what was apparently meant as a gesture to the Corsican people’s campaign for independence, he suggested the French constitution might be changed in order to “build autonomy” for the island “without any disengagement from the state.”
However, Macron may not unilaterally alter the French Constitution, even on Corsica’s behalf, without the approval of Parliament back home in Paris. Despite promising such changes would acknowledge the island’s unique “specificities,” a move he characterized as a meaningful milestone on the way to autonomy, Macron avoided naming any specific powers to be granted the Corsicans through this process.
Corsicans vow to resist language restrictions
Instead, he pledged the local assembly would receive a “constitutional and organic text” including “the possibility of defining standards on different topics or transfer of powers” under the authority of the Council of State and the Constitutional Council within six months. Macron would even promote teaching of the Corsican language in public schools “to promote bilingualism,” he said.
However, any sort of “autonomy” achieved on the island under his watch “won’t be autonomy against the State, nor autonomy without the State, but autonomy for Corsica and within the Republic,” Macron admitted, insisting, “Corsica is rooted in France and in the Republic.”
Corsica has been part of France since 1768. However, the island is home to a spirited nationalist movement and generations of independence activism, which have been intermittently subject to brutal repression by agents of the French. Last year, unruly demonstrations by pro-independence protesters erupted following the killing in Arles prison of pro-independence activist Yvan Colonna, who had been serving a life sentence for the 1998 assassination of Corsican prefect Claude Erignac.
Since the 2022 unrest, Paris and local leaders have been attempting to negotiate a mutually favorable solution to their political differences, a process that nominally concluded on Wednesday.
The dominant nationalist wing of the Corsican Assembly has called for its own legislative power, residency status, the elevation of Corsican to an official language, and the inclusion of the Corsican people as a specific entity in the Constitution. Macron has vetoed both resident status and official language status. (RT)