French President Emmanuel Macron visited Corsica on Thursday morning, where during a speech before the regional parliament he said he was in favor of recognizing greater autonomy for the island with a constitutional reform. Macron called this decision “a historic moment”.
The island of Corsica, which has been part of France since 1769, is administratively a type of region defined in the French Constitution as a “single territorial collectivity”, as are the overseas territories of Mayotte, Martinique and French Guiana, and it enjoys very limited autonomy, despite its peculiarities (starting with the language spoken by many local people, more similar to the Italian spoken in Sardinia than to French).
Over the years there have been wide disagreements between the French central state and local politicians on how many and what margins of autonomy to grant to the island, and independence movements have increased their consensus among the Corsican population. Recently there have also been several episodes of violence committed by independence activists to protest against the French government.
The most serious occurred in March 2022 when there were large protests across the island against the French state, accused of failing to protect the safety of the Corsican independence militant Yvan Colonna, who was attacked in prison by another prisoner and died from serious injuries a few days later. Gilles Simeoni, head of the local government, commented on Macron’s proposal on Thursday, arguing that it was precisely the attack on Colonna and the violence that followed that triggered a dialogue with the government to grant greater autonomy to the island.
During his visit to the regional parliament, in Ajaccio, Macron said that he will propose a constitutional amendment to give Corsica “autonomy within the Republic”, an autonomy that “must not be against the State, nor without it State” (an implicit reference to those in Corsica who claim independence from France).
He did not explain in detail what this greater autonomy will consist of, but promised that a constitutional reform will be presented within six months. He also said he wanted to give greater recognition to the Corsican language “in teaching and in the public space”, even if he did not expressly say that it will be included in the Constitution as a co-official language like the French one, as the independentists are asking instead. courses.