16 Apr 2004

French Polynesia says new statute needed to clear way for own embassies

1:08 pm on 16 April 2004

The French Polynesian government says it could be possible in the future that the territory sets up embassies while remaining part of the French republic.

A government spokesperson says for this to happen, France would have to give the territory a new statute within French constitutional law.

The spokesperson, Yves Haupert, says under the autonomy statute approved this year French Polynesia can set up offices for delegations but not obtain diplomatic status for them.

He says such delegations are already in place in Paris and Brussels.

And Mr Haupert says for now, trying to set up embassies is not a priority.

His statement follows a comment by the vice president, Edouard Fritch, who said that his government was working towards setting up diplomatic missions.

And he added that the territory's president had wanted to have political representation in other countries.

The French Polynesian government is opposed to independence, and French Polynesia is now defined as an overseas country within the French republic.

An opposition politician, Tea Hirshon, says the government's position is contradictory.

"The law is the law. You cannot be French and not be French at the same time. If you are French, even if you are given more power in this new statute, you are still French and part of the French collective."