Posts Tagged ‘pro-independence’

Taiwan, China spar over Taiwan premier’s independence remarks

April 3, 2018


TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s government said on Tuesday that China was stirring up its media to threaten the self-ruled island after a major state-run newspaper said China should issue an international arrest warrant for Taiwan’s premier for his comments on independence.

 Image result for William Lai, taiwan

Taiwanese new premier William Lai.  . REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Taiwan is one of China’s most sensitive issues. The island is claimed by Beijing as its sacred territory and China has never renounced the use of force to bring under Chinese control what it considers to be a wayward province.

China’s hostility to Taiwan has grown since Tsai Ing-wen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party was elected Taiwanese president in 2016. China fears she wants to push for formal independence, though Tsai says she wants to maintain the status quo and is committed to peace.

After Taiwan Premier William Lai told parliament on Friday that he was a “Taiwan independence worker” and that his position was that Taiwan was a sovereign, independent country, the widely-read Chinese tabloid the Global Times said he should be prosecuted under China’s 2005 Anti-Secession Law.

“If evidence of his crimes are cast iron, then a global wanted notice can be issued for him,” the paper, published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, wrote on Saturday.

Late on Monday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office weighed in, saying Lai’s comments were “dangerous and presumptuous”, which harm peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and that Taiwan will never be separated from China.

Taiwan’s China policy-making Mainland Affairs Council said the Global Times and Chinese government’s comments were “intimidating and irrational”.

“Taiwan is a democratic, pluralistic society,” it said, adding Lai had consistently followed the president’s policy of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

China “has repeatedly manipulated the media and so-called ‘internet users’ to threaten and repress Taiwan’s government and people, trying to use military blows and legal threats to violate our dignity and interests”, the council said.

“This is not what a responsible party should be doing. It will only increase cross-strait antagonism and damage relations,” it added.

“Over the past two years, our government has not ‘felt animosity towards China’,” the council said. “But mainland China must face up to the reality of the separate governments on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and respect Taiwan’s democracy and will of its people.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping said last month that Taiwan would face the “punishment of history” for any attempt at separatism, offering his strongest warning yet to the island.

Reporting by Jeanny Kao; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry


Catalonia separatist movement risks taking radical path

March 28, 2018


© AFP / by Daniel BOSQUE | Protesters scuffle with riot police at a demonstration in Barcelona Sunday as analysts say the pro-independence movement is at risk of becoming radicalised

BARCELONA (AFP) – Increasingly hardline Catalan separatists are taking advantage of the void left by the decapitation of the region’s independence movement to step up their protests by blocking roads and clashing with police, raising fears of radicalisation, analysts say.Spanish authorities have jailed nine Catalan separatist leaders and called for the extradition of six others who have fled abroad, including Catalonia’s former president Carles Puigdemont who was arrested Sunday in Germany.

This crackdown on the independence movement’s established leaders “generates incentives for the adoption of a hardline” by radical separatists, said Berta Barbet, politics professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

“Since the conflict is increasingly more raw and social divisions are greater, the risk of radicalisation is ever more real,” she added.

But Barbet said she did not believe Spain will see a return to the armed violence that plagued the country when Basque separatist group ETA and Catalan nationalist group Terra Lliure were active.

ETA, accused of killing more than 800 people in a decades-long campaign of bombings and shootings to establish an independent Basque state, announced it was disarming in April 2017.

Terra Lliure, which disbanded in 1995, committed its only killing with a bomb attack in 1987.

– ‘Catalan spring’ –

After years of peaceful protests in Catalonia in favour of independence, demonstrations on Sunday against Puigdemont’s arrest led to clashes with police that left nearly 100 people injured.

Catalan police decked out in riot gear shoved and hit demonstrators with batons to keep the crowd from advancing on the office of the Madrid government’s representative in Barcelona.

Demonstrators set fire to recycling containers and threw glass bottles, cans, and eggs at police.

Despite appeals for calm from some separatist leaders, the protests called by the radical Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDR) continued Tuesday with protesters blocking major motorways in the wealthy northeastern region of Spain.

“The Catalan spring has erupted,” the group said in a statement on Sunday, in a reference to a series of protests which began in Arab nations in 2011.

“We have crossed the point of no return… we will reappropriate the streets and stop the country,” the statement added in a call for a general strike in Catalonia like the ones held late last year when the region’s separatist crisis heated up.

During those strikes demonstrators blocked dozens of roads across Catalonia and forced the closure of key tourist spots such as Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia church.

– Paralyse the state –

The legal action against Catalan separatists “is activating the social movement in the streets again, reinforcing it and making it more tense,” said Jordi Amat, the author of several essays on the independence movement.

The failure of Catalonia’s unilateral declaration of independence, which led Spain’s central government to take direct control of the region in October and launch the crackdown on separatist leaders, has caused the pro-independence movement to change strategy, he added.

Whereas before the goal was to “gain legitimacy internationally”, now “the only strategy they can use is destabilisation” of the Spanish state, Amat said.

This explains why Catalan separatist lawmakers, who regained their absolute majority in the Catalan parliament at snap polls in December, keep proposing candidates for regional president who are disqualified by their legal problems such as Puigdemont, he added.

“For many separatists, this destabilisation also should be taken to the streets… there is a will to paralyse the mechanics of the state,” Amat said.

– ‘Offside’ –

Catalonia’s two main separatist parties, the conservative PDeCAT and the leftist ERC, tried timidly to lower tensions at the end of last year while the smallest separatist party, the far-left CUP, has called for greater disobedience.

The conservative party is under pressure from its leader, Puigdemont, to take a tougher line against Spain while the ERC has been severely shaken up by the jailing of its leader, Oriol Junqueras, and the flight abroad of its number two, Marta Rovira.

“The leaders who could channel the movement have found themselves offside and this is a scenario that allows the CUP to promote its strategy,” said Amat.

The CRD organisers of demonstrations are aligned with the CUP party.

Barbet, however, believes that the threat posed by the courts may divert the separatists from a more radical path.

“Virtually everyone in power can end up with serious legal problems and many think twice before making a decision,” she said.

That’s why no separatist leader “clearly defends the option of a hard break (with Spain) and in this way it is very difficult for radicalisation to go very far,” she added.

by Daniel BOSQUE

Puigdemont to appear before German judge as protests erupt in Catalonia

March 26, 2018


© Lluis Gene, AFP | Protesters hold a yellow ribbon with a picture of Catalonia’s deposed leader Carles Puigdemont while waving Catalan pro-independence Estelada flags during a demonstration in Barcelona on March 25, 2018.

Text by FRANCE 24 

Latest update : 2018-03-26

Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont is to appear in court Monday following his arrest in Germany which triggered a wave of protests in Catalonia where thousands of separatists faced off with police.

German police arrested Puigdemont on Sunday, after he crossed the border from Denmark, under a European warrant issued by Spain.

The arrest comes five months after Puigdemont went on the run as Spanish prosecutors sought to charge him with sedition and rebellion in the wake of a vote by the Catalan parliament to declare independence.

According to his lawyer Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, he was on his way to Belgium, where he had initially fled after Spanish authorities moved to impose direct rule over Catalonia.

Puigdemont will be brought before a German judge on Monday to confirm his identity. A court will then decide if he is to remain in custody pending extradition proceedings.

Calling the situation “very delicate”, Alonso-Cuevillas told Catalonia’s Rac1 radio it was “very likely that he will not be allowed to leave Germany”.

Julian Assange @JulianAssange

In 1940 the elected president of Catalonia, Lluís Companys, was captured by the Gestapo, at the request of Spain, delivered to them and executed. Today, German police have arrested the elected president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, at the request of Spain, to be extradited.

22:10 – 25 Mar 2018

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Clashes erupted as protesters took to the streets in Catalonia on Sunday following his arrest.

Catalan police decked out in riot gear shoved and hit demonstrators with batons to keep the crowd from advancing on the office of the Spanish government’s representative in Barcelona, the capital of the wealthy northeastern region.

Officers fired warning shots in the air to try to contain the demonstrators, who pushed large recycling containers towards police. Some people threw glass bottles, cans and eggs at police.

Some 90 people were slightly injured during the protests in Barcelona, including 22 police officers, emergency services said.

Another seven people were injured at a protest in Lleida, about 150 kilometres west of Barcelona and one person was injured in Tarragona to the south.

It is the latest chapter in a secession saga that has bitterly divided Catalans and triggered Spain’s worst political crisis in decades.

‘Not the end’

“It angers us that they arrested Puigdemont, he is our highest representative,” 22-year-old architecture student Judit Carapena told AFP at the protest.

Spain’s central government should not “sing victory because it is not the end of separatism, far from it”, she added.

Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent appealed for calm in an address broadcast on regional television.

“I have no doubt that Catalan society will act as it always has, with non-violence,” he said.

Aside from Puigdemont, nine other Catalan separatist leaders are in jail in Spain over the region’s failed bid for independence.

Puigdemont’s arrest comes two days after Spain’s supreme court issued international arrest warrants for 13 Catalan separatists including Puigdemont and his nominated successor Jordi Turull.

The court said they would be prosecuted for “rebellion”, a charge which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Twelve more face less serious charges like disobedience.

Issuing the warrant for Puigdemont on Friday, Judge Pablo Llarena accused the ousted Catalan leader of organising an independence referendum in October last year despite a ban from Madrid.

Puigdemont had been visiting Finland since Thursday, but slipped out of the Nordic country before Finnish police could detain him.

While separatist parties won Catalonia’s regional elections in December called by Madrid, they have been unable to elect a president and form a government as they have picked candidates who are now either in exile, in jail or facing prosecution.

After Puigdemont was forced to withdraw his bid for the presidency as he could not return to Spain without facing arrest, another pro-independence leader Jordi Sanchez followed suit when a judge refused to let him out of jail to be sworn in. The third candidate, Turull, was placed in custody on Friday.

Fresh regional elections will be triggered if a new leader is not elected by May 22.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)



Catalan separatists face reality check after leader Carles Puigdemont’s detention in Germany

March 26, 2018


Image may contain: 3 people, text and outdoor

 A pro-independence demonstrator holds a poster with of a photo of Carles Puigdemont, the deposed leader of Catalonia’s pro-independence party, during a protest in Barcelona, Spain, on Sunday. | AP

Carles Puigdemont’s removal from Catalonia’s political scene to a German jail forces the separatist movement to make a decision: keep bickering on the way ahead, or set aside differences and form a regional government.

The former Catalan president’s detention in Germany on Sunday was hailed by anti-separatist forces as a decisive blow against the push for Catalan independence. In a boost for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Puigdemont now exits the political stage, at least for now, and is unable to influence events in Barcelona.


Yet pending Puigdemont’s return to Spain, the risk is his detention will act as the catalyst needed to pressure sparring separatist camps into unity three months after regional elections.

“It’s time to build a common front to defend individual and collective rights and liberties,” Roger Torrent, the speaker of the Catalan parliament, said on Twitter in response to Puigdemont’s arrest.

Spain is struggling to move on from the events of late last year when the force of separatist sentiment in Catalonia ran into the rock of the central government in Madrid’s refusal to let Puigdemont’s attempt to split the region from Spain succeed. Protests on the streets of Barcelona on Sunday were a reminder that the wounds are far from healed.

“At first sight, it all looks such a mess,” said Caroline Gray, lecturer at Aston University in the U.K. who specializes in nationalist movements. “But the fact is that political life goes on and Catalonia still needs a government.”

Puigdemont was held by German highway police on Sunday near the Danish border after attending a weekend event in Finland. He has been living in exile in Brussels since October, when Rajoy used emergency powers to sack the Catalan president and disband his government after his attempt to declare a republic, an act in breach of Spain’s constitution.

While Madrid went about restoring Spain’s constitutional order in Catalonia, judges began a crackdown that culminated in a Supreme Court judge declaring on Friday that Puigdemont and other separatist leaders would face prosecution for rebellion.

It was another blow to the secessionist campaign that has been in limbo since separatist parties emerged with a narrow majority in December’s regional elections. With Puigdemont in self-exile and other leaders abroad or in jail, they have so far failed to form a government.

An attempt to elect as president Jordi Turull, the spokesman of Puigdemont’s former government, failed last week when the radical separatist party CUP abstained from voting for him. Turull was himself jailed on remand on Friday, forcing the Catalan parliament to abandon a second attempt to hold a vote to make him president.

Attention will now focus on how Catalan and Spanish political forces respond to Puigdemont’s detention, said Gray. One outcome could be the CUP deputies being forced to rethink their decision to abstain. Eyes will also be on the Catalunya en Comu platform linked to the anti-austerity party Podemos to see if they might support efforts to elect a government, she said.

Puigdemont’s detention is a “big hit” for the separatist movement because he has been central to its narrative in recent months, said Pablo Simon, a political science professor at Carlos III University in Madrid. Even so, it may also help to focus their energies on ensuring a new government is formed, he said.

To be sure, not everyone is convinced that Puigdemont’s detention changes things much.

“In the short term, it will lead to calls for the separatist movement to be more united,” said Antonio Barroso, a political risk analyst at Teneo Intelligence in London. “In the end though, the internal divisions are there and I don’t think they’re going to disappear.”

Catalonia’s deadlocked politics have implications across the Spanish political spectrum. The tough legal crackdown on separatism sits badly with the Basque nationalists whose votes Rajoy’s minority government needs to pass a budget and other important legislation. That friction may mean that a regional government in Catalonia ultimately helps Rajoy’s case with the Basques.

The Catalan crisis has meanwhile helped Ciudadanos, the pro-Spain force that won the most votes of any party in the regional elections, vault over Rajoy’s People’s Party to take the lead in national opinion polls. Its leader Albert Rivera celebrated Puigdemont’s detention Sunday in a tweet that said “the flight of the coup-monger is finished.”

Separatists mull appointing jailed leader as Catalan president — Carles Puigdemont is in self-exile in Belgium

February 27, 2018


© AFP/File | Catalan separatists have held frequent protests calling for freeom for “political prisoners”
MADRID (AFP) – Catalan separatist parties are considering appointing jailed civil society leader Jordi Sanchez as regional president as their negotiations to try and find a suitable candidate draw to a close, a lawmaker said.The parties — which form an absolute majority in the Catalan parliament — have been negotiating for weeks over who to pick as candidate for the regional presidency as Catalonia’s sacked leader Carles Puigdemont is in self-exile in Belgium.

Puigdemont wants to govern Catalonia remotely but Spain’s Constitutional Court has made his appointment conditional on his physical presence in regional capital Barcelona — and he faces arrest if he returns over his role in the attempt to break from Spain.

“A deal is imminent,” said Carles Campuzano of Puigdemont’s PdeCAT party on Spanish radio late on Monday, as Catalonia remains without a regional government and under Madrid’s direct rule following a failed declaration of independence on October 27.

Asked whether Sanchez, head of the ANC, a hugely influential pro-independence citizens’ group, was being considered as candidate for the Catalan presidency, he said: “This is an option that is being worked on.”

According to Spanish media, Puigdemont would take on a “symbolic” role from Belgium.

– Leading from jail? –

But choosing Sanchez, 53, is likely to cause further problems as he has been in prison for more than four months, charged with sedition over his role in the secession attempt.

He is accused of encouraging a major protest in September as Spanish police raided the Catalan administration’s economic offices in the run-up to a banned independence referendum.

The October bid to break from Spain prompted Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to sack the region’s government, dissolve its parliament and call snap elections in December.

Sanchez, who was second on Puigdemont’s Together for Catalonia list in the polls, was elected as a regional lawmaker.

If he is chosen as candidate to lead Catalonia, it will be up to a Supreme Court judge to allow him out of jail to be officially appointed at a parliamentary session in Barcelona.

This in theory is possible, even if the judge previously refused such a request made by jailed, former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras.

And even if Sanchez was allowed to go to the session, he would then have to govern from jail and ask to be freed to attend other meetings.

Taiwan Replaces China Affairs Chief To Start “New Phase” in Relationship — Taiwan will no longer report Chinese bombers to the media

February 24, 2018

Taipei – Taiwan replaced its China affairs chief Friday, promoting a minister associated with pro-independence politics in what it said was a bid to forge a “new phase” in relations with rival Beijing.

Analysts said the move, part of a major reshuffle, signalled a push by President Tsai Ing-wen to take a more assertive stance as ties with the Chinese government grow increasingly frosty.

China still sees Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified and has cut off official communications with Taipei as Tsai refuses to acknowledge the self-ruling, democratic island is part of “one China”.

Chen Ming-tong will take over the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) which oversees Taiwan’s relations with China.

Image result for Chen Ming-tong, Taiwan, photos

Chen Ming-tong

He previously served as head of the MAC from 2007 to 2008 under Taiwan’s former president Chen Shui-bian, who was a staunch independence advocate.

“Chen is familiar with cross-strait exchanges… he can also create a new phase and a new vision in cross-strait affairs by returning to the job,” cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung told reporters.

Presidential secretary-general Joseph Wu, a confidant of Tsai with expertise in international and cross-strait relations, also became the new foreign minister.

The pair replace relatively conservative ministers, indicating Tsai’s intention to take a more bullish approach to cross-strait relations, said Hung Chin-fu, a political analyst at National Cheng Kung University.

“She aims to find a strategic balance, a dynamic equilibrium between the two sides so Taiwan won’t be in a passive situation where it keeps taking punches by China,” he told AFP.

Tsai has pledged to maintain the “status quo” with Beijing but pro-independence politicians in her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have criticised her for not taking a tougher stance.

Ties with Beijing have become increasingly tense since Tsai took office in 2016. Beijing has stepped up the pressure on her government with increased military drills and by wooing away Taiwan’s dwindling number of diplomatic allies.

When China last month began operating new flight routes in the Taiwan Strait without consulting the island, Taipei slammed the move as “reckless and politically motivated”.

Taiwan retaliated by blocking requests by two Chinese airlines to operate 176 additional cross-strait flights during the peak Lunar New Year holiday period.

The reshuffle also aimed to boost support for Tsai’s DPP ahead of her mid-term test with key local government elections by the end of 2018, analysts said.

National Security Council secretary-general Yen Teh-fa is also set to replace gaffe-prone defence minister Feng Shih-kuan, who was criticised and ridiculed for giving himself a perfect mark of “100 points” when grading his job performance and for describing himself as “more handsome” than a top movie star.

Source: AFP/zl
Read more at–new-phase–of-china-ties-in-reshuffle-9986174


Twelve Chinese PLA aircraft passed near Taiwanese airspace on Feb. 21

The Ministry of Nat. Defense said the fleet passed south of Orchid Island on a ‘long haul’ exercise over the Pacific

File Photo: Chinese H-6K Bomber and Su-30 Fighter Jet (taken September, 2016) (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Incursions of the Chinese PLA Air Force into Taiwanese airspace continue to increase, according to a spokesman from the Ministry of National Defense.

On the afternoon of Feb. 21, a small fleet of 12 PLA Aircraft crossed through the Bashi Channel (巴士海峽), south of Orchid Island. The group of planes included H-6K bombers, Shenyang J-11 fighter jets, and possibly Shaanxi Y-8 transport aircraft as well, according to the Liberty Times.

The Ministry of National Defense (MOND) made an official statement that the group was part of a “long haul” flight training exercise over the Pacific Ocean. However, the spokesman emphasizes that the MOND was fully aware of the aircraft and their movements, and that the incursion did not represent an immediate threat to Taiwan.

Reportedly, the exercise of the flight group was “nothing out of the ordinary.”

Since the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October 2017, flight incursions into Taiwanese airspace and beyond have increased dramatically, which has caused alarm about the potential threat that the PLA airforce may pose for Taiwan.

In late December 2017, the Ministry of National Defense also announced that because of their increasing frequency, that the Ministry would no longer publicize all incursions of Chinese aircraft.

Macron faces emboldened nationalists on tricky Corsica visit

February 6, 2018


Image captionThousands of Corsicans protested in Ajaccio to back linguistic recognition and greater devolution

Thousands of Corsicans have held a rally to call for greater autonomy from France.

French President Emmanuel Macron is due in Corsica on Tuesday for the start of a delicate two-day visit rich in symbolism, just days after thousands of Corsican nationalists staged a rally demanding greater freedom for the island.

Macron’s visit coincides with the 20th anniversary of the assassination of France’s top official in Corsica, Prefect Claude Erignac, who was shot dead by a pro-independence militant on February 6, 1998.

The French president will attend a ceremony honouring the slain prefect, before holding highly sensitive talks with the leaders of the island’s regional administration.

Corsican nationalists, who have governed the picturesque island of 330,000 people for the past two years, achieved their best-ever performance in December’s regional election, trouncing Macron’s party.

© Pascal Pochard-Casabianca, AFP | Thousands marched through the streets of Ajaccio, the Corsican capital, at the weekend demanding greater autonomy from the Mediterranean island.

The Pè a Corsica (For Corsica) alliance won two-thirds of the seats in a new regional assembly, a result which it argued gave it a strong mandate to demand more autonomy from the highly centralised French state.

Macron has previously said he is open to dialogue but ruled out making any changes to the constitution, a stance that effectively draws a red line on the nationalists’ flagship demand that the Corsican language be given official status.

Other demands include repatriating Corsican prisoners who are currently jailed on the mainland and changing housing rules so that only people who have been Corsican residents for five years can buy property on the “island of beauty”.


In a show of strength, the nationalist camp staged a peaceful march on Saturday in the island’s capital, Ajaccio, to press its demands. Organisers said 25,000 people attended the rally, while officials gave a far lower estimate.

“This is a mobilisation without precedent in recent years. It’s huge,” said Gilles Simeoni, the head of the regional administration, who unlike some of his coalition partners supports autonomy rather than full independence.

The march opened with young girls wearing Corsican flag’s over their shoulders, as the crowd chanted “long live the independence struggle” and “killer French state”, in Corsican.

A sign on the lead car in the protest read “Amnistia”, calling for amnesty for Corsican prisoners jailed for pro-independence violence.

Corsica, famed for being the birthplace of Napoleon, was once a hotbed of violent anti-French militancy. For decades militants waged a violent “national liberation” campaign, but in 2014 they announced a ceasefire.

Speaking to RTL radio on Monday, Simeoni said Macron’s visit signalled a “historic window of opportunity to end the cycle of conflict.”

However, he warned: “If the road to dialogue remains closed we would be in a crisis situation and a political dead-end.”

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)



Tuesday’s visit will mark the 20th anniversary of the targeted killing of France’s top official on the island, Claude Érignac, during a wave of violence orchestrated by the National Liberation Front of Corsica (FLNC),

The FLNC, a separatist militant group, declared a ceasefire in 2014.

People carry backpacks with signs reading "#democracy" during a demonstration on February 3, 2018 in AjaccioImage copyrightAFP
Image captionSome demonstrators wore backpacks with signs reading “#democracy”

The local authorities said about 6,000 demonstrators were at Saturday’s protest in the capital Ajaccio.

But the protest’s organisers put the figure at 25,000.

People gather in DeGaulle plaza in Ajaccio, on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica.Image copyrightAFP
Image captionThe protest aimed to put pressure on Mr Macron to give the island greater autonomy

Corsican nationalists have been emboldened by a resounding win in December’s elections.

Although a ceasefire has been in place since 2014, Corsica’s current leader, Gilles Simeoni – a moderate nationalist – issued a warning earlier this week in an interview with Reuters that Paris would be “playing with fire” if it did not engage with Corsica’s issues.

Map of Corsica

Nationalist gains in Corsica set to pose dilemma for Macron

December 10, 2017


© AFP/File / by Maureen COFFLARD with Adam PLOWRIGHT in Paris | The governing Pe a Corsica (For Corsica) alliance won 45 percent in a first round of voting.

AJACCIO (FRANCE) (AFP) – Nationalists on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica are set to cement their gains in regional elections on Sunday and then push ahead with their demands for greater autonomy from Paris.The outcome is widely expected to pose a new challenge to President Emmanuel Macron who will have to decide whether to cede some control or maintain France’s tradition of highly centralised government.

The governing Pe a Corsica (For Corsica) alliance — made up of the pro-autonomy Femu a Corsica (Let’s Make Corsica) and pro-independence Corsica Libera (Free Corsica) — won 45 percent in a first round of voting last Sunday.

They are expected to extend their gains in the final round on Sunday that will see them dominate a new regional assembly which will begin its work at the start of 2018.

The vote comes amid a political crisis in Spain — with potentially major consequences for the European Union — following efforts by Catalan nationalists to break away from Madrid.

The leaders of Pe a Corsica have stressed throughout that their short-term goal is greater autonomy, rather than independence from France — not least because the mountainous island is dependent on state spending.

They have formulated three core demands: they want equal recognition for the Corsican language along with French and an amnesty for convicts they consider to be political prisoners.

They also want the state to recognise a special Corsican residency status — which would be used to fight against property speculation fuelled by foreigners snapping up holiday homes.

Opinion polls show that most of Corsica’s 330,000 residents, many of whom live off seasonal tourism or are employed in the public sector, want to remain in France.

– Economic dependency –

Even separatist leader Jean-Guy Talamoni — nicknamed by some “the Corsican Puigdemont” after the Catalan leader — suggests the island would split from France in 10 or 15 years at the earliest, if a majority supported it.

“An economically viable Corsica — I don’t think we’ll see it in my lifetime,” a Corsica specialist at the University of Bordeaux, Thierry Dominici, told AFP last week.

That is not the case for Catalonia, where separatists complain that their wealthy region, representing a fifth of Spain’s economic output, pays more than it gets back into national coffers.

The mountainous island, famed for having some of the best beaches in Europe and for being the birthplace of Napoleon, was once a hotbed of violent anti-French militancy.

The National Liberation Front of Corsica (FLNC) waged a four-decade bombing campaign — mainly targeting state infrastructure — until 2014.

The worst nationalist attack saw France’s top official on the island, Claude Erignac, assassinated in 1998.

by Maureen COFFLARD with Adam PLOWRIGHT in Paris

La Caixa foundation, Caixabank to move HQ from Catalonia to Mallorca

October 7, 2017

La Caixa Banking Foundation, which manages the holding company which controls Caixabank , said on Saturday it will move its headquarters to Palma de Mallorca for as long as political upheaval in Catalonia continues.

MADRID: La Caixa Banking Foundation, which manages the holding company which controls Caixabank , said on Saturday it will move its headquarters to Palma de Mallorca for as long as political upheaval in Catalonia continues.

Caixbank said on Friday it has decided to move its registered office to Valencia in light of the situation in Catalonia, which is set to claim independence from the rest of Spain following a disputed independence referendum.

(Reporting by Paul Day; editing by Alexander Smith)

Source: Reuters



Spooked businesses shift headquarters out of Catalonia — “Coexistence is broken”

October 6, 2017

OCTOBER 06, 2017 2:48 PM