19 Oct 2007

France says its territories are EU platforms in Pacific

10:22 am on 19 October 2007

The French minister in charge of overseas territories, Christian Estrosi, has described the French possessions in the region as platforms of the European Union in the Pacific.

Mr Estrosi made the comment in Nuku'alofa after the French Polynesian president, Oscar Temaru, told the Pacific Islands Forum in Tonga that he sought its support to have his territory put back on the UN decolonisation list.

Mr Estrosi described Mr Temaru's address as expected and urged the French territories to link up with their Pacific neighbours.

Mr Temaru subsequently stayed away from the post-Forum meeting in Tonga addressed by Mr Estrosi.

New Caledonia is being decolonised under a 20 year process set out in the 1998 Noumea Accord but during his stay in Noumea last week, Mr Estrosi called for more of France to be part of the territory - a comment which was criticised by the pro-independence movement.

At the instigation of the former French President, Jacques Chirac, New Caledonia and French Polynesia have become associate Forum members while Wallis and Futuna has obtained Forum observer status.