July 19, 2024

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron proposed granting limited autonomy for Corsica on Thursday in a modest step toward nationalist sentiment on the Mediterranean island.

In a speech he described as “an outstretched hand,” Macron said: “Let us have the audacity to build a Corsican autonomy within the republic.”

“It won’t be an autonomy that is against the state nor autonomy without the state, but an autonomy for Corsica and within the republic,” he said in his address to the island’s local elected assembly.

The island is home to more than 340,000 people and has been part of France since 1768. But Corsica has also seen pro-independence violence and has an influential nationalist movement. In 1998, in an assassination that stunned the country, pro-independence activists shot dead France’s top official on the island, Claude Érignac. Other violence has been mostly low-level, often involving bombs planted in cars or buildings overnight, when no one is inside.

Macron didn’t go into great detail about what powers might be transferred from Paris to a more autonomous Corsica. He said that he favors changing the French Constitution to recognize “the specificities” of Corsica’s island community. A constitutional change would require French parliamentary approval.

“This is how we will turn a page that was marked by somber hours and be able to open another,” Macron said.

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