France puts blame on former Soviet republic over conflict in South Pacific

(MENAFN) French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has asserted that Azerbaijan played a role in instigating the recent unrest in the French overseas territory of New Caledonia. The violence, which erupted earlier in the week, resulted in the deaths of at least five individuals, including two Police officers, in the Pacific territory under Paris' administration.

The protests were triggered by a proposal from lawmakers in Paris to grant French residents who have resided in New Caledonia for a decade the right to vote in provincial elections. This initiative raised concerns that it could diminish the voting power of the indigenous Kanak people, who constitute 40 percent of the archipelago's population.

When questioned about potential interference from Azerbaijan, China, or Russia in New Caledonia's affairs, Darmanin singled out Baku. He stated that there is evidence indicating Azerbaijani involvement, asserting that "it's not a fantasy, it's a reality." According to Darmanin, some Caledonian separatists had established connections with Azerbaijan.

Despite a memorandum of cooperation signed between Azerbaijan's parliament and New Caledonia's congress, which recognized the local population's right to self-determination, Darmanin accused Azerbaijan of supporting separatist movements. He suggested that tensions in the region were being exploited by Baku in response to France's support for Armenians, whom he claimed were "massacred" by Azerbaijanis.



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