The French President Giscard d'Estaing arrived in Ajaccio, Corsica on Wednesday (7 June) for a three-day visit amid a major security operation on the island undertaken to protect him.
The French President Giscard d'Estaing arrived in Ajaccio, Corsica on Wednesday (7 June) for a three-day visit amid a major security operation on the island undertaken to protect him. Corsican separatists have claimed responsibility for over 150 bomb attacks in the island since the beginning of the year.
SYNOPSIS: Ajaccio, administrative capital of the island which has been under French rule for over 200 years was well prepared for the visit. President Giscard d'estaing's trip was his first to the island since he took office. For the event extensive security measures were in force.
The outlawed separatist movement-the Corsican National Liberation Front (FNLC)-has waged a campaign of bomb attacks against government property and to ensure there was no trouble, hundreds of plain clothes and riot police were drafted in and 23 suspected FNLC members rounded up. During the arrival, the President's guard of Honour comprised legionnaires who had recently seen action in Zaire.
President Giscard, addressing a crowd of over 5,000 people, stressed it was his aim to make Corsica 'happy and prosperous', but he warned the separatists that Corsicans had a right to security for themselves and their property and this would be upheld by the law. He also said the free expression of citizen's desires would be protected and that the popular vote was the only legitimate means of democratic change.
There were on disturbances during his speech and the crowd-including the President's wife-heard him outline Government policy on corsica. Islanders claim communications with the mainland are poor and that Corsican agriculture is failing. The President emphasised that whether Corsica was 'peaceful or disturbed', his policies would not change.