Woman waves the flag of New Caledonia in the capital Numea

Woman waves the flag of New Caledonia in the capital Numea

France has accused Azerbaijan of interfering in the domestic affairs of New Caledonia, a French special administrative-territorial entity in the South Pacific. The allegation was made by French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin during an interview with France 2 on May 15. Responding to a question about New Caledonia, Darmanin asserted, “Some leaders of New Caledonia, who are supporters of independence, have made a deal with Azerbaijan, which is undeniable.”

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry swiftly dismissed the accusation as “another unfounded statement.” The ministry emphasized that there was no basis for France's claim and called for evidence to support such allegations.

The controversy follows a visit by a delegation from New Caledonia to Azerbaijan in April. During the visit, the delegation held meetings with the chairman of the Milli Majlis (Azerbaijan’s National Assembly), deputies, and other officials. On April 18, the Milli Majlis hosted a scientific conference titled “New Caledonia: History, Modern Challenges, and Expected Future.” Deputy Asim Mollazade, a participant in the conference, remarked that Azerbaijan could provide moral support to New Caledonia in its quest for freedom and rights. He criticized France’s colonial policies, citing historical instances in Algeria and the Middle East.

Mollazade further argued that France has failed to recognize the rights of the people in New Caledonia, saying  Turan, “According to the information we received from guests from New Caledonia during the meeting, almost all of their rights are trampled on. In the 21st century, it is not for anyone to live by the actions of the 15th century.” He added that France had no grounds to accuse Azerbaijan, as the two countries are geographically distant and have no direct ties.

Azer Gasimli, head of the Institute of Political Management in Azerbaijan, echoed this sentiment in an interview with Radio Azadliq. He noted that the issue of New Caledonia does not offer any strategic advantages to Azerbaijan’s foreign policy or security. Gasimli called on France to present concrete evidence to support its claims, stating, “They have expressed their opinion, but specifically neither details nor facts have been revealed. The facts must be revealed so that an opinion can be expressed. Whether there are those facts or not, time will tell.”

Local analysts have also questioned Azerbaijan’s focus on human rights issues in New Caledonia, suggesting that Azerbaijani officials should first address domestic concerns regarding freedom of speech, expression, and assembly.

The situation in New Caledonia has been tense, with recent riots and clashes between supporters and opponents of independence. The unrest was triggered by a controversial law expanding voting rights for French citizens living in New Caledonia, which opponents argue will dilute the local population’s electoral power and increase Paris’s influence. The protests have resulted in casualties and led to the declaration of a state of emergency.

From 2018 to 2021, New Caledonia held three referendums on independence from France, all of which ended in defeat for the independence movement. The current turmoil underscores the ongoing divisions and challenges faced by the territory.

As the situation develops, the international community will be watching closely to see how these geopolitical tensions between France and Azerbaijan unfold and how they might impact the future of New Caledonia.


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