Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin arrived on Wednesday for two days in Corsica to prepare for the arrival “at the end of September” of President Emmanuel Macron who will speak on possible constitutional reform.

Seven months after his last visit, Gérald Darmanin spoke for 30 minutes with the autonomist president of the executive Gilles Simeoni before participating, in Ajaccio, in a general assembly of the island’s mayors.

“I am responsible for telling you that I am preparing the trip of the President of the Republic who will come to the Isle of Beauty at the end of September,” he told them.

Emmanuel Macron must come for the commemorations of the 80th anniversary of the liberation of Corsica and he “will have the opportunity to speak before you, before the Corsicans, on the perhaps provisional conclusions of a year of institutional discussions”, he clarified.

At the end of February, during the resumption of discussions on the institutional future of the island, which had been stopped for six months, Emmanuel Macron reiterated his readiness to include possible developments in his constitutional reform project, at the expense of the Corsican elected officials and the Ministry of the Interior to present a proposal to him before July 14.

“If there is institutional development, it is not for pleasure”, “it is because we would collectively consider that without that, we cannot improve the lives of Corsicans”, insisted Gérald Darmanin on Wednesday, specifying that evolution could go “as far as the production of the standard, what some call autonomy”.

But he also recalled the two red lines: “Corsica in the Republic and not two categories of citizens on the national territory but between these two lines, there is an immense possibility”.

Inviting island elected officials to political pragmatism, he recalled that a possible “institutional political compromise” must be adopted “by 3/5ths of Congress”.

Responding to elected officials who wanted to talk about daily life, Mr. Darmanin assured that what interested him “alongside legislative autonomy, a policy which still remains to be discussed”, “it is agricultural autonomy, it is the “Energy autonomy means avoiding sending waste to other countries.”

“We are experiencing a moment that we know is special, an important and certainly decisive moment,” declared for his part the autonomist president of the executive council Gilles Simeoni, assuring that “both” have made “the essential efforts so that the peace, which is precious, be rooted.”

“We want to build together a perspective that is one of progress, development and emancipation,” he added.

This trip comes as the Corsican Assembly failed at the beginning of July to agree on a single autonomy project for this island of 340,000 inhabitants bringing together the entire political spectrum.

The island’s elected officials had in fact transmitted two projects to Paris, one from the quasi-united nationalists and the other from the right-wing opposition.

The nationalists’ text, adopted by the Corsican Assembly where they occupy 46 of the 63 seats, calls for “legal recognition of the Corsican people”, “a status of co-officiality of the Corsican language” and recognition of the “link between Corsican people and their land” via “resident status”.

Overall, it requests legislative power in all areas for the Corsican Assembly, except those relating to sovereign powers.

The second text, from the right-wing minority opposition, calls for a simple “power of adaptation” of French laws to Corsican specificities, without autonomous management of education and health and without transfer of taxation.

After the fatal attack in prison in 2022 of independence activist Yvan Colonna and the violent demonstrations that followed, the government opened the possibility of discussions that could “go as far as autonomy”.

Wednesday evening, Gérald Darmanin dines with the presidents of political groups of the Corsican Assembly.

Thursday morning, he must have breakfast with the mayor of Ajaccio, Stéphane Sbraggia before meeting Gilles Simeoni at 9:30 a.m. for a second interview.

13/09/2023 22:13:07 –         Ajaccio (AFP) –         © 2023 AFP