New Caledonia makes France 'the second largest maritime power in the world'

Well, let's get some more analysis. And we can speak now to David Kamrou, who's an honorary senior research fellow and adjunct professor at Sion Sport. Thank you very much indeed for joining us. What can we expect from President Macron's visit to New Caledonia and what sort of a welcome do you think he's likely to get there? I do think it's going to be a very warm welcome. I mean, what has happened is the French state was meant to be a certain, to a certain extent A neutral referee between the loyalists and the independentists. And that changed, I think, when President Macron pushed for the third referendum during the COVID crisis. And the Canucks explicitly asked for that referendum to be postponed because, you know, people had died and their traditions of mourning was such that they couldn't campaign and also mourn for their for their deceased loved ones. But I think President Macron went ahead and and pushed for that referendum, which won handsomely. But the referendum results have not been considered by the independentists as being legitimate, right. And I'm just wondering what what you think President Macron might take with him to New Caledonia. I mean, is he likely to come out with any concessions to those who want independence? I don't know. The promise of another referendum, the promise of greater autonomy, or is all of that just a red line for France? Do you think 30 years of effort, of an effective decolonisation have been wasted? I think there's also been a lack of awareness of what was happening amongst young Canucks, their alienation and their sort of poor conditions. I think there was certain oblivion to that and there was a kind of complacency because peace had been installed. Now what can you offer pushback? A new referendum. I think what is immediately has to be addressed is the vote on extending the franchise which was before the the French parliament. And if that is not is that is pushback that would be considered as a concession at least to the independence because that that is really as your report shows that is their real concern that they the Canucks already form only about 40% a large majority of about 40% or about 40% of Kaldos and the other twenty are from other islands or mixed. So the fear is that, you know, they're becoming even more a minority in in what they see as their own land. So that the voting, that voting provision although was PLA, I mean it was forecast within the after the Matignon agreement and the new new new Mia agreement. It was something of a red flag to a bull. I mean you mentioned the, the living conditions in some communities there in New Caledonia and you know, President Macron obviously wants to try to defuse the situation. It's not a very large population after all, 1/4 of a million or so. I mean can't Paris simply throw money at the problem? If indeed New Caledonia is so important to France strategically why not invest heavily in the territory and make life there so attractive under French rule that no one would want anything other than that? That is one possibility. But the other question is the the the only real resources in the country are are nickel and the price of nickel has has has crashed. So the the nickel mines need need to be supported because they are uh the industries that employee Canucks. What is different in the in these riots compared to 30-40 years ago is that they're occurring in New Mir itself and that is both a sign of success of the last 30-40 years because we have got more mixed communities or within the capital city. But at the same time, it also means that there are a sense of ghettos within the within Yumira as well. I mean, why is New Caledonia so important to France? I mean, it's a very long way away. And you know, it really is about as far away from France as one could possibly imagine. It takes the president and he's leaving tonight. He doesn't get there till Thursday morning local time. I mean, it's a really long way away. Why does France want to hang on to it? Well, first of all, it means that France is an Indo Pacific country and that is terribly important for President Macron. And when we started to talk about France, as in the Pacific country, he did so first of all in Sydney and Australia and then he went straight to New Caledonia. And. And the actually the French desire or the desire at least to the French President to hang on to New Caledonia is perhaps stronger today than it was even 10 years ago. The President of New Caledonia means, for example, with the waters around New Caledonia, you know that France, I think it's the second largest maritime power in the world. And if you look at their exclusive economic zones and it is, you know, it is a significant expression of France may be a middle power, but it is a global middle power, you know, unlike say a country like, like like Germany. And so, yes, in terms of France's global role, it's terribly important. There's been a massive amount of effort put into developing relations with Australia and New Zealand, a lot of cooperation with India as well in military terms and military exercises. And it's really, you know, France is a global player that's at stake. Yeah, I mean, you mentioned Australia and New Zealand just lastly. I mean those two countries have announced that they're laying on evacuation plans for their citizens who live there. I mean, how are those plans arranged? I mean that that does imply, doesn't it, a certain amount of neighbourly cooperation. It it, it did indeed and it was a result of, when I can gather of a meeting between the foreign ministers of Australia, New Zealand and France. There are very strong cooperative relations that have already existed. And both Australia and New Zealand, at least the governments of them are are supportive of, you know New New Caledonia remaining part of of France for you know again for geopolitical reasons because their concern is also with with Chinese interference in other island states in the South Pacific. So. So France is seen as a as a significant player in order to to make sure that in what the offerings call their backyard is kept in order and and to keep outside interference outside. OK, well, we're going to have to leave on that note because we're out of time, I'm just being told. But thank you very much indeed. David Camaro, honorary senior research fellow and adjunct professor at Seon Sport. Thank you very much for your time. My pleasure.

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