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The Status of French Colonialism Today

The Status of French Colonialism Today

Azerbaijani journalist Elnur Enveroglu recently stated, “France’s colonial policy is the biggest disgrace of the 21st century.   The fact is that the French state, which acts as the leading party for the democratization policy in Europe, is carrying out racism, violation of human rights, discrimination of language, and religion, both in New Caledonia and within the country, along with the colonial policy.  For this reason, there is great strife and turmoil within France today.”  

According to him, “Instead of regulating what is happening inside the country, French President Emmanuel Macron intervenes in the affairs of countries near or far from this country.  For example, let us take a look at the South Caucasus or the unresolved negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.  Imagine that on the eve of the riots in France, he is looking for a remedy for the incurable pain of Armenia, which is 5,000 KM away, disrespecting the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and even making inappropriate statements.   Within these statements, France is on the verge of an economic recession.”

Enveroglu added: “I should note that serious protests against the French company Total Energy have started in Africa recently.   It spread rapidly to other countries like a wave.   Even France embraced Armenia so much that it seemed to want to say that it is willing to end cooperation with Azerbaijan, one of the leading countries in the South Caucuses in the economic field, for the sake of the Armenians.  This might bring about the end of France.”

According to him, “By doing this, President Macron acts as if he is reporting to the Armenians and he has a kind of commitment to support separatists in Karabakh.  This is probably the compensation of his debt to Armenian lobbyists after the presidential election.”  However, he highlighted how this is not a wise policy: “Recently, Azerbaijan hosted the ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Baku and France’s colonial policy was on the agenda of the conference.   A Baku Initiative Group was formed against French colonialism.    This decision was made following the event ‘towards the complete elimination of colonialism’ organized in Baku by the Center for Analysis of International Relations within the framework of the ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement.  A document was adopted on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the national leader Heydar Aliyev.”

Professor Nursin Guney noted that this meeting was held because “France in the 21st century continues to colonize certain African countries.   This is against human rights.   France is holding the third and fourth largest gold reserves in the world.  Even though it does not have gold mines, they were all obtained through a colonization strategy.”  

In the past, European countries, including France, were mainly in pursuit of colonies – the Dutch, the Germans, the British, the Spanish and the French also did this. In the past, the main goal of most European countries was to conquer as much territory as possible and turn it into a colony. This is how the Europeans used the natural treasures and labor force of those colonies and from that they got rich and obtained cheap labor. The colonies supplied the European countries with spices, different types of food, gold, metals, diamonds and more. It was quite profitable to own a colony at that time; you could say it was like a status symbol.

But during the world wars, both the first and second, the colonial industry was destroyed. The occupied nations began to demand independence and to separate from the European rule that was imposed on them by force. But the struggles for freedom were not easy or simple. France, for example, was very attached to its colonies and saw the colonial industry as a mission, because thanks to the colonies, the French could teach the “primitive ignorant people” over whom they controlled some culture. France did not give up the nations she controlled easily.

France did not give up Syria after the First World War, even though the founders of the Kingdom of Syria (the Hashem family from the Hejaz region of the Arabian Peninsula) helped the countries of the agreement to conquer Syria and Israel. France saw Syria as her private property and conquered it by force from the Arabs without mercy and without showing mercy to anyone.

And of course, there was Algeria, whose citizens took eight years to successfully remove French rule from their country. Algeria was an old and important French colony, it is actually the last colony that France liberated and gave independence. The French colonies are called overseas territories. For the French, the colonies were their way of spreading the values of the French Revolution and their worldview. According to them, they held the correct view of the world; they are the ones who became disillusioned and they wanted to pass on their new knowledge to other peoples.

These days, France still owns several overseas territories, including Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, Reunion, Mayotte and a few others. The aforementioned countries met in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, to discuss France’s attitude towards them. Among the delegations there were also representatives of New Caledonia, whose situation in relation to France is slightly different, it ranges between a province of France overseas and a sovereign state. The representative of New Caledonia claimed at the conference in Baku that France has controlled Caledonia for over 170 years and stated that the country’s history is written in blood.

The president of the parliament of New Caledonia said at the conference that “France calls itself a democratic republic of unity, equality and fraternity, but this is just a façade, this is all a lie.” He went on to say that “by participating in today’s event in Baku, we call not to repeat this bloody colonial history. The policy of colonization must stop.” The French government must allow a referendum to be held in New Caledonia to see if the New Caledonian people support separation from French rule or actually prefer to remain under the French. In the first referendum in 2018, the results decided that New Caledonia would remain under the French government. The supporters of the French government got 56.4% of the votes.

After the referendum, French President Emmanuel Macron visited the island and noted that the results of the referendum showed “confidence in the French Republic”. On the other side, a politician from the side of those who want to break away from the French government optimistically claimed that “we are one step before victory”. The second referendum took place in 2020, but also in it the supporters of independence for New Caledonia lost the elections. The supporters of the French government won 53.26% of the votes. Macron called for dialogue between the parties and hinted that France wants to say goodbye to its colonial past.

Macron added that there is a possibility of a third referendum. The third referendum, the president of the Parliament of New Caledonia claimed at a conference in Baku, happened during the Corona period. Although this referendum was illegal, France accepted its results anyway. The opponents of the French government wanted to decide in a way that was not a referendum, but this was the only option that France allowed them and it sent 2000 soldiers to enforce it. He calls the French conduct neocolonialism and demands from the UN to allow his country to say goodbye to its history and set out on an independent path.

Representatives of French Guiana were also present at the conference in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. The country’s representatives claimed that France appropriated the assets of French Guiana for itself and looted its natural treasures. French settlement in French Guiana began in 1604, the French used the area as a prison. Since French Guiana has been under French rule, its citizens have never experienced independence and never known what it’s like to be under a government that truly represents them. According to the representatives at the committee in Baku, French Guiana is in a state of colonization, with a 30% unemployment rate. Like the other countries that came to the conference in Baku, both French Guiana and New Caledonia demanded to say goodbye to France and start the path of an independent country, to say goodbye to their history and leave it in the past.

It may be that the disease of colonialism affects each nation in a different way and it takes each nation a different amount of time to heal from it in its own unique way. France is among the few countries in our time that still has colonies overseas that have almost no connection between them and France and between themselves (geographic connection, ethnic connection, cultural connection) at the base. Those French provinces overseas want to become independent countries, something they have never experienced in the flesh. It seems that they still need to work on this, both to prepare the opponents of separation from France for the day after and to work on a stronger France that will free them from its grip.



Rachel Avraham

Rachel Avraham is the CEO of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy and the editor of the Economic Peace Center, which was established by Ayoob Kara, who served as Israel's Communication, Cyber and Satellite Minister. For close to a decade, she has been an Israel-based journalist, specializing in radical Islam, abuses of human rights and minority rights, counter-terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Azerbaijan, Syria, Iran, and other issues of importance. Avraham is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media," a ground-breaking book endorsed by Former Israel Consul General Yitzchak Ben Gad and Israeli Communications Minister Ayoob Kara that discusses how the media exploits the life stories of Palestinian female terrorists in order to justify wanton acts of violence. Avraham has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben-Gurion University. She received her BA in Government and Politics with minors in Jewish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park.