Emmanuel Macron: Corsica nationalist leaders snub French president | World | News

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Top separatists, including the leaders of the governing nationalist-separatist alliance Pè a Corsica (For Corsica) Gilles Simeoni and Jean-Guy Talamoni, skipped the ‘Republican lunch’ hosted by the young centrist “in protest at Mr Macron’s violent speech”, Corsican lawmaker Jean-Felix Acquaviva told the AFP news agency.

Mr Acquaviva was referring to Mr Macron’s speech on Tuesday in which he said France would not pardon Corsican militants jailed for pro-independence violence before ruling out recognising Corsican alongside French.

Mr Macron also ruled out in a second defiant speech on Wednesday the creation of a special status of ‘Corsican resident’ to stop foreigners from buying property on the Mediterranean island, saying doing so would be “unconstitutional” and constitute a breach of EU law.

The French president said he hoped Corsica would “emancipate” itself from France but stressed the island remained “at the heart of the republic”. 

The French centrist, however, did give local nationalists an olive branch by saying he was open to adding a specific mention of Corsica in the constitution to “recognise (Corsica’s) identity and anchor it in the republic”.

Nationalists said Mr Macron’s two-day trip to the island had been a waste of time.

“It was a missed opportunity,” Mr Simeoni said, while Mr Talamoni said that he was “dismayed” by the level of responses given by Mr Macron.

Unlike their Catalan counterparts, Corsican separatists are seeking more autonomy and not outright independence. 

This is because while Catalonia is economically self-sufficient, Corsica depends heavily on funding from France. 

But despite growing calls for more freedoms, an overwhelming majority of French people remain firmly against a Catalonia-style break-up, a poll published on Wednesday confirmed.

The poll, carried out by Elabe for the news channel BFM TV, showed that 74 per cent of French people are “against” an independent Corsica, compared to 26 per cent who are “for”.

The poll of 1,002 French people aged 18 and over was carried out online on February 6.

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