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Corsica: Talamoni and Simeoni welcome an “unblocking” of discussions

Ⓒ AFP – PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA – | Gilles Simeoni and Jean-Guy Talamoni, the two Corsican
nationalist leaders, on both sides of Jacqueline Gourault,
Minister to the Minister of the Interior, Ajaccio, January 5,
2018

Gilles Simeoni and Jean-Guy Talamoni, the two Corsican
nationalist leaders, welcomed Friday in Ajaccio a “release” in
the discussions on the future of the Island of Beauty, after
their first meeting with Jacqueline Gourault, the “Madame
Corse” of the government.

“We are clearly in the presence of an unlocking of the
constitutional question, which is not nothing,” said Jean-Guy
Talamoni, leader of the Corsica Libera independence movement
and president of the Assembly of Corsica.

Some claims of the Corsican nationalists, such as the
co-officiality of the Corsican language and French, indeed
require a revision of the Constitution, which Prime Minister
Edouard Philippe seemed to dismiss December 12, insisting that
all future reforms should be “in line with the existing
constitutional framework”.

“A point of legal and political blockage has now been
lifted,” said Friday Gilles Simeoni, the boss of the autonomist
movement Femu a Corsica, president of the Executive Council of
the new Corsican community unique territorial born on January
1, in place and place of the old region and the two
departments.

– Stay ‘extremely cautious’ –

“We have agreed together the need to put our dialogue in the
perspective of the general constitutional revision that is
planned,” Simeoni insisted, referring to the constitutional
amendment that the head of state could propose in the spring
for a Parliament more narrow and more efficient.

Jacqueline Gourault, minister to the Minister of the
Interior, did not comment after his first meeting with the
nationalist elected, reserving for the press conference
announced at 16:30 at the prefecture. She only hailed the “very
interesting discussions” with MM. Talamoni and Simeoni, who
respectively spoke of a “positive atmosphere” and an “extremely
constructive state of mind”.

Tuesday, Gilles Simeoni, during his election as head of the
Corsican executive council, had regretted “a number of direct
and indirect positions taken by members of the government,
including the Prime Minister (…) not up to” hopes of the
Corsican nationalists.

“If a Constitution does not recognize a people, it is up to
the Constitution to change and not to the people to disappear,”
he said.

This first contact with Ms. Gourault, since the overwhelming
victory of the nationalist list Pè a Corsica (For Corsica) in
the territorial elections of December, with 56.5% of the vote,
has broken the ice.

The nationalist elected officials, who expect “a strong
political gesture” from the executive, to quote the statement
of Gilles Simeoni Tuesday, however, both warned that they would
remain “extremely cautious”.

– ‘Locking points are known’ –

“The stumbling blocks are known,” conceded Mr. Simeoni,
including the question of the co-officiality of Corsican and
French, the status of Corsican resident, which, according to
him, must protect the islanders from speculation real estate,
and the amnesty of so-called “political” prisoners. All with a
focus of autonomy status of right within three years, for
effective implementation within ten years.

“But we do not start a discussion by being stuck on what is
difficult,” he added immediately.

The two nationalist leaders will be received by Prime
Minister Edouard Philippe on January 22nd in Matignon. Then it
will be an appointment with the Senate Speaker Gérard Larcher,
at a date not yet specified.

“At the end of this first round of
discussions, the President of the Republic will have the
opportunity to express himself to give his vision of what must
be the new relations between Corsica and the Republic,” said
Gilles Simeoni.

“In France, it is the President of the Republic who sets the
course and who today knows the best Corsican file,” he insisted
Tuesday.

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