Corsicans: last armed separatists in W. Europe

24th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

MARSEILLE, France, March 24, 2006 (AFP) - With the Basque separatist group ETA announcing a permanent ceasefire, less than a year after the IRA agreed to lay down its arms, Corsica is now home to the last armed organisation seeking independence in western Europe.

MARSEILLE, France, March 24, 2006 (AFP) - With the Basque separatist group ETA announcing a permanent ceasefire, less than a year after the IRA agreed to lay down its arms, Corsica is now home to the last armed organisation seeking independence in western Europe.

"This is the final struggle in (western) Europe resorting to violence," said writer Gabriel-Xavier Culioli, of the human rights league on the French Mediterranean island. "That is the great problem for Corsican nationalists. Corsican society is fed up."

There has been a great difference in the degree and extent of violence, he conceded.

Some 3,600 died in Northern Ireland, 800 in the Basque Country; while over 30 years the number of victims in Corsica is counted in dozens.

In Corsica the separatist movement is fragmented, with two chief groups: the FLNC-UC (Union des Combattants) (Corsican National Liberation Front- Combattants' Union) and the 'October 22' FLNC, both of which acknowledge responsibility for violent acts.

Since the start of the year there have been 33 actual or attempted attacks, almost all against holiday homes.

Some local nationalist politicians do not hide their wish to see events follow the same path as in the Basque Country.

Jean-Christophe Angelini, a member of the nationalist coalition Unione Naziunale in the regional assembly and leader of the Corsica Nation Party (PNC) which seeks self-rule, said ETA's decision should speed matters up.

"We won't get there in a week but things should go faster in Corsica, too," Angelini said.

"We deeply long for a similar process in Corsica in the coming weeks," he said.

"We call for clear thinking on the part of nationalists. Our strategy of union goes in that direction.

"The time has come to stop always blaming Paris but to talk among ourselves how we can achieve our goals in the short or medium term," Angelini added. "We can only encourage clandestine groups to hasten their pace."

But, he said, France bore the primary responsibility for the existing state of affairs and should begin the dialogue.

Last August Corsican nationalists hailed the decision by the IRA to end the armed struggle in Northern Ireland while saying it followed a process of dialogue that had not taken place in Corsica.

François Sargentini, of Corsica Nazione Independente, the chief separatist party, blamed Paris for a lack of dialogue.

"In the Basque country there is a common desire by ETA, the Basques, suppporters of self-rule and the government to talk," Sargentini said. "That is not the case in Corsica. The chief problem is the closed mind of the state."

He added that "those who carry out the armed struggle don't do it for fun. It is a necessity at this stage but not an end in itself. Dialogue has to be reestablished."

He was backed by former FLNC leader Pierre Poggioli who left the movement to create in 1989 the nationalist movement Accolta Naziunale Corsa (ANC), which he still leads.

"I agree with the Basque militants if their time has come," Poggioli said.

"In Corsica things are quite different. We do not have the self-rule of the Basque Country. All decisions are taken in Paris. None of our claims is taken into account. We have the most backward status in the Mediterranean."

So, he says, "I don't see people who have chosen this method of struggle following the path" taken by the Basque separatists.

"I do not suppport violence but it's the fault of the people in Paris."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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