3 Apr 2006

French minister offers cool response to idea of independence for French Polynesia

10:04 am on 3 April 2006

The French overseas territories minister, Francois Baroin, has given a reserved response to a proposal by the French Polynesian president, Oscar Temaru, for a structured process to possible independence.

Mr Temaru's proposed Tahiti Nui Accords are modelled after the 1998 Noumea Accord which outlines a gradual transfer of power from Paris and an eventual vote on independence in the next decade.

Mr Baroin, who is the first French overseas territories minister to visit Tahiti since the ousting of the government led by Gaston Flosse, says France cares about the respect of the constitution and the values of the French republic.

Mr Baroin has been on an extensive tour of the archipelago and while expressing concern about population drift towards Tahiti, he says the French Polynesian government's development funding requests are not easily met one year out from the presidential election in France.

Mr Baroin is due in Wellington tomorrow for talks with New Zealand government ministers and to sign a tri-partite regional fisheries surveillance agreement which he already signed with Australia a month ago.