Neocolonial backlash -Macron’s failures in New Caledonia, Africa South Caucasus
Posted on May 21st, 2024

Matanat Nasibova Caliber.Az

Macron’s France is once again reaping the fruits of its failed policy toward overseas territories, particularly in New Caledonia, where unrest has been raging since May 13 over a bill that envisions granting the right to participate in regional elections to people who have lived in the archipelago for more than 10 years.

Thus, the French Le Monde writes that the riots in New Caledonia are the strongest since the 1980s, and BBC News reports that the representation of the central French authorities announced that law enforcement forces have unblocked the road between the airport and the capital of this Pacific overseas territory of France. However, the local population is not about to surrender to the mercy of the French gendarmes.

Why did France have a death grip on New Caledonia? The answer is obvious: control over this territory is of great strategic importance to Paris. Firstly, it allows France to maintain its geopolitical and military influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

Secondly, New Caledonia is the fourth largest producer of nickel in the world, the demand for which, according to experts’ forecasts, will only increase. So France, as they say, has something to fight for in this region. This explains why Emmanuel Macron is willing to undertake any ventures to maintain control over this strategically and economically important region. Back in July last year, speaking in the central square of New Caledonia’s capital, he urged the inhabitants of the overseas territory to forget about separation from the metropolis and promised them a constitutional reform.

I hope that the revision of the Constitution of the Fifth Republic can take place at the beginning of 2024, it will be a revision of the part of the Constitution dedicated to New Caledonia,” Macron promised then but did not keep his word. It is also known that all three referendums on New Caledonia’s withdrawal from the French Republic, as stipulated in the Nouméa Accord, were not successful for supporters of independence, and Paris, which supports separatist elements in other countries, did not allow New Caledonia to realize the right to self-determination.

In fact, the current unrest in Nouméa once again confirms that France’s policy towards its overseas territories”, or, in fact, colonies, remains discriminatory. Amazingly, while losing its influence in New Caledonia and Africa, Paris is at the same time trying to interfere in the internal affairs of other states, in particular Azerbaijan.

While supporting Armenian separatism, France accuses Azerbaijan of the events in New Caledonia. Let us recall that on May 16, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin in an interview with France 2 TV channel made a statement that Azerbaijan interferes in the situation in New Caledonia, supporting political movements advocating its independence from France.

 These are not fantasies. Unfortunately, some separatists have made a deal with Azerbaijan,” Darmanin said without specifying what kind of interference he was talking about.

By the way, this is not the first accusation against Azerbaijan by a French politician. As previously reported by La Tribune, he recently addressed the Legislative Commission of the National Assembly, where he condemned the signing of a memorandum of cooperation with the Congress of New Caledonia by the Milli Majlis (parliament) of Azerbaijan, calling Baku’s actions extremely destructive interference”.

Baku, in turn, in response to the unjustified attack of Paris advised to pay attention to the failed policy of their country with regard to overseas territories, which was the reason for such protests”. It is clear that Paris does not have any evidence of Baku’s involvement in the riots in New Caledonia, and all that France can appeal with is just unsubstantiated accusations not supported by any facts. One doesn’t need to be a genius to understand that the main reason for the latest unrest in New Caledonia is Paris’s neocolonial policy, which the indigenous population of the archipelago refuses to accept.

On the other hand, Azerbaijan has never hidden that it is an opponent of colonialism, which is confirmed by the establishment of the Baku Initiative Group in Baku on July 6, 2023, by the participants of the conference Towards the total elimination of colonialism”, which included activists from various French territories seeking independence. It is clear that the appearance of the Azerbaijani flag at the demonstrations in New Caledonia came as an unpleasant surprise to the French authorities, although there is a logical explanation for this too.

First of all, taking into account that the initiative group expressed solidarity with the Kanak people and condemned the recent electoral reforms in New Caledonia, the appearance of the Azerbaijani flag at the protests of independence supporters in New Caledonia as a sign of gratitude to Azerbaijan was natural.

Secondly, France, which now accuses Baku of allegedly supporting separatism” in New Caledonia, has itself repeatedly made unreasonable demands to Azerbaijan to ensure the right of the Armenians of Karabakh to self-determination” and to this day continues to arm Yerevan, pushing it towards a new war in the region.

Against the background of the openly hostile policy of Paris, it is reasonable to ask: what reaction did France expect from Azerbaijan? It is obvious that after the serious failure of French neo-colonial policy in Africa, Paris is trying to push its interests in the South Caucasus region in order to somehow raise its shaken image in the international arena.

Azerbaijan, in turn, in contrast to France’s policy, by its balanced policy makes it clear to the Fifth Republic that it will not silently watch the growth of neo-colonialism not only in African countries but also the provocative steps of Paris in the region.

Finally, it should be noted that France’s neocolonial policy is doomed to failure after a series of recent events, starting with the withdrawal of French troops from Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso and ending with the current protests in New Caledonia, the consequences of which are sure to promise Paris another political upheaval, after which the Fifth Republic will not have time to interfere in the affairs of the countries of the South Caucasus.


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