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In Corsica, Macron wants to give a “future” to Corsica within the Republic

Ⓒ POOL/AFP – LUDOVIC MARIN – | President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the
tribute to Préfet Claude Erignac on February 6, 2018 in
Ajaccio

Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday in Ajaccio the need to give a
“future” to Corsica in the “Republican fold,” paying tribute
Tuesday to the prefect Claude Erignac, murdered 20 years ago to
the day in a street in the city.

“The Republic must maintain this ambition to spare Corsica a
future up to its expectations, without compromising with the
requests that would get it out of the fold republican,” said
the head of state, eagerly awaited by nationalist leaders of
the island who demand a “dialogue without taboos”.

The assassination of the prefect Claude Erignac by a
nationalist commando on February 6, 1998 “is not justified,
does not plead, can not be explained”, continued Emmanuel
Macron, during a tribute ceremony organized on the premises
same crime.

By inaugurating a place Claude Erignac at this place, “we
seal our unbreakable union in the Republic,” he added.

“Corsica, land of pride and dignity, was soiled by this
crime,” said the head of state, who spoke after a speech by
Dominique Erignac, the widow of the prefect, and in the
presence of autonomist leader of the Corsican executive Gilles
Simeoni. He also affirmed that “the justice of the Republic
(had) been rendered” and that it would be “followed without
complacency, without forgetting, without amnesty”.

The head of state arrived at 11H20 in the small street
Colonna-d’Ornano where the prefect of Corsica had been killed
by three bullets while he went to the theater to attend a
concert with his wife.

“I hope that the Republic will never
falter in Corsica,” said Dominique Erignac, widow of the
prefect, surrounded by her two children, paying homage to her
husband on “this cursed place” where she said she had thought
never to return . An olive tree was planted with, engraved on
the ground, the inscription “A man, a place”.

The tribute was attended by nearly 300 guests including the
Senate Speaker Gérard Larcher, many elected Corsican and the
former prefects of the island. Jean-Pierre Chevènement,
Minister of the Interior at the time of the tragedy, also
attended the ceremony, invited by the Elysee “by tradition
republican”. “We must not see a political message,” said a
source close to the Elysee while Gilles Simeoni saw a “very bad
signal.”

Nearly 200 other people were also present among whom
Paulette, sexagenarian, came “because we do not forget this
assassination, this cowardly act of which we Corsicans can not
be proud”.

The president of the Assembly of Corsica, the separatist
Jean-Guy Talamoni was absent, having explained that his
“presence (would have been) moved” and “surely not desired by
the relatives of the prefect Erignac”.

– “Historic Window” –

The death of Claude Erignac – first prefect killed in France
since the Second World War – had caused a huge emotion in
Corsica, with the following days, the largest events ever held
in Ajaccio and Bastia. Three members of the commando, including
Yvan Colonna who had become “the most wanted man in France”,
are still imprisoned today.

Ⓒ POOL/AFP – ludovic MARIN – | Emmanuel Macron shakes hands with the president of the
Corsican executive Gilles Simeoni (left) during the tribute to
the prefect Claude Erignac on February 6, 2018 in
Ajaccio

Since then, Corsican nationalism turned in 2014 the page of
clandestinity and attacks, before triumphing in the polls,
electing in 2017 three deputies of the four of the island, then
obtaining an absolute majority in territorial elections in
December.

Gilles Simeoni and Jean-Guy Talamoni thus feel in a position
of strength before their meeting with the President of the
Republic scheduled at 19:00 in the majestic building of the
unique territorial collectivity in Ajaccio.

“There is a historic window to get out of the logic of
conflict,” said Gilles Simeoni, who however worried Tuesday in
Corsica-Matin presence “around the President of the Republic,
hawks who camp on a total refusal of any advance and play the
politics of the worst “.

The head of state should wait for the
last leg of his visit to the island, Bastia Wednesday
afternoon, to clarify his vision of Corsica in a speech. He
will have met with elected officials of the other political
tendencies of the island, like the LR mayor of Ajaccio Laurent
Marcangeli, and members of the civil society.

His speech will also be followed in Paris, particularly in
the context of the debate on the revision of the Constitution
which focuses on institutions but could include Corsica, as
claimed by the nationalists. Among their other demands are the
co-officiality of the Corsican language, the status of resident
and the bringing together of so-called “political”
prisoners.

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