French President Emmanuel Macron announced and proposed in favor of a “form of autonomy” for the Mediterranean island of Corsica. Macron made the announcement of this proposition on Thursday, 28th September, 2023, whilst addressing the Corsican Regional Assembly in Ajaccio. He also described the decision of autonomy for Corsica as “historic”. This proposition comes several months after the violent protests that took place on the island of Corsica in the year 2022.
Macron announces autonomy for Corsica “without disengagement from the state” :
On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the Corsican Regional Assembly in Ajaccio. He offered a proposition to the elected representatives of the region to build autonomy for the island of Corsica “without any disengagement from the state”. Macron also declared that the proposed autonomy will neither be “against the state”, nor “without the state”, but that it will be for Corsica and “within the Republic”.
Macron promised that a constitutional and organic text will be submitted for approval within the deadline of six months to the elected representatives of Corsica. He added that the text would provide the representatives with “the possibility of defining standards on different topics or transfer of powers” under the control of the Constitutional Council and the Council of State. Macron also spoke of the inclusion of Corsica in the Constitution and of the island community’s specific characteristics.
The French President proposed the creation of a public education service to promote bilingualism, whilst also calling for the better teaching of the Corsican language. It must also be pointed out that Corsican Nationalists have long asked for the recognition of Corsican as an official language. The French President had set several red lines, beginning with the turndown to have two categories of citizens in the French Republic. This ruled out resident status and the co-official status for the Corsican language.
It is worth noting that Emmanuel Macron’s government had considered the matter and the prospect of autonomy for Corsica last year while France’s Presidential Elections were going on.
The violent unrest on Corsica in 2022 :
The violent protests began in Corsica, France in March of the year 2022 after Yvan Colonna – who was a prominent Corsican nationalist – was killed by an inmate in the Arles prison. Colonna was a Corsican pro – Independence nationalist who was serving a life term in prison for the murder of a Corsican Prefect, Claude Erignac in the year of 1998. He was taken into custody in the year 2003 and was sentenced to a life term in prison.
Colonna was a prominent figure amongst Corsican nationalists. He had also ostensibly become a symbol of “independence” of the Mediterranean island from France.
After the prison attack on him, vitriolic protests and riots began in Ajaccio, Calvi and Bastia – which are among the main cities of the island of Corsica. The protests subsequently also turned into hostile clashes between the rioters and the police officials. The unrest and strain continued for several days, after which the French authorities placed Corsica on “maximum riot alert”.