top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
Explore
arrow down

France could enable autonomy for Corsica after weeks of protests

‘The question of what autonomy would look like’ on the island would need to be ‘discussed’

Corsica has a long history of a separatist, independence movement, and tensions have been high in the past two weeks after a serious attack on imprisoned militant Yvan Colonna Pic: FaRifo / Shutterstock

France is prepared to enable “autonomy” for Corsica, the interior minister has said, after two weeks of tensions on the island.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin is in Corsica today and tomorrow (March 16-17), and is set to visit the main cities of Ajaccio and Porto-Vecchio. 

He made the statement to the newspaper Corse-Matin. He said: “We are ready to go as far as autonomy. But the question is, what does this autonomy look like? We need to discuss it.”

The minister suggested that his comments were intended to restore calm to the island, and to start the discussion process between the French government and Corsican ministers.

He said: “There cannot be sincere, democratic dialogue under the pressure of homemade bombs and the constant presence of law enforcement officers.”

‘Historic discussion’: Response from Corsica

Gilles Simeoni, president of the executive council of Corsica, has said that the minister’s comments do “not yet [represent] a victory for me, or for the Corsican people”.

However, speaking to FranceInfo, he said that it is “important” that “the interior minister, in the name of the prime minister, and probably of the president, has said today publicly that the government is ready to enter into a historic discussion”.

Mr Simeoni said: The fundamental problem is that everyone knows that there is a Corsican people, with our own community, language, culture, and connection to our land. But we can’t say it or recognise it. 

“We must invent a legal and political change that also respects the fundamental principles of the French republic. What we want, is to build an emancipated Corsican society, which is democratic and responsible, with a newly-confident link with the state and the republic.”

Two weeks of tension

It comes after two weeks of tensions following an attack on the Corsican independence militant Yvan Colonna on March 2, while he was in prison in Arles (Bouches-du-Rhône). Mr Colonna is now in a coma following an attempt on his life.

Read more: Why are there angry protests against the French state in Corsica? 

The militant has been serving a life sentence for the murder of Corsica’s then-prefect, Claude Erignac, in Ajaccio in 1998.

In response to the attack, protesters have targeted institutional buildings, and claimed that “the French state is a murderer” (“Statu francesu assassinu” in Corsican) for allowing the incident to happen.

Protesters have also been calling into question the law that states that Mr Colonna cannot be incarcerated in Corsica due to his “détenu particulièrement signalé’ (high-alert prisoner)” status. The militant was on the run for four years before he was captured.

Meanwhile, presidential candidate Valérie Pécresse has denounced the government’s response to the protests.

She told FranceInter that the move amounted to “giving in to violence”. She said: “This isn’t healthy. We must restore order in Corsica before starting negotiations.”

Related articles

State ‘must now take Corsicans seriously’
Why are there angry protests against the French state in Corsica? 
Edmond Simeoni and the wishes of Corsica

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Healthcare in France*
Featured Help Guide
- Understand the French healthcare system, how you access it and how you are reimbursed - Useful if you are new to the French healthcare system or want a more in-depth understanding - Reader question and answer section Aimed at non-French nationals living here, the guide gives an overview of what you are (and are not) covered for. There is also information for second-home owners and regular visitors.
Get news, views and information from France
You have 2 free subscriber articles left
Subscribe now to read unlimited articles and exclusive content
Already a subscriber? Log in now