Macron to Visit Corsica Under Tense Circumstances
On Saturday, February 3, several thousand people filled the streets of the Corsican city of Ajaccio. These people were marching in a peaceful protest just a few days in advance of a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron.
Those protesting wanted to make known that they desired more autonomy for the island that is off the coast of France. They feel that Corsica has its own distinct culture and needs, and the over 300,000 people who live on the island can make decisions for what is best for them.
One of the specific demands of the protesters is recognition of the importance of the Corsican language. They also want the distinctiveness of the Corsican culture to be recognized. Those on the streets are also seeking changes in real estate law. They want those who already live on Corsica to receive preference in real estate deals. According to protesters, many wealthy people from the French mainland are buying up property on Corsica at inflated rates. This makes property out of reach for the majority of those who are native to the island.
President Macron is going to visit the island in the upcoming week. He hopes to open a dialogue to meet the needs of the Corsican people. He realizes that he must make some inroads with the people. Just a couple of months ago, Mr. Macron's party was soundly defeated in local elections. It was seen as a sign that people on Corsica are demanding more action from the president.
While Mr. Macron does seem willing to grant some of the protesters' demands, the president has shown no willingness to meet the demand that Corsican separatists imprisoned for violent actions be set free.
The FNLC, a Corsican separatist group, signed a cease-fire with the government in 2014. Many fear a renewal of violence on Corsica if more demands are not met by President Macron.
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