The Minister of the Interior and Overseas, Gérald Darmanin, estimated that the Polynesians must first achieve “food”, “economic” and “agricultural” autonomy before talking about independence, on his arrival Wednesday in Tahiti. , where an independentist executive was elected in April. French Polynesia enjoys a unique autonomous status in the Republic. The president of the Polynesian government, the separatist Moetai Brotherson, wants to move towards full sovereignty for this overseas community of 280,000 inhabitants located some 15,000 km from Paris.
“We respect the choice of Polynesians”
When he got off the plane on Wednesday morning in Tahiti (Wednesday evening in Paris), questioned by the press on relations between the State and French Polynesia, the Minister of the Interior wanted to be reassuring in the approach to dialogue which must be tied between Paris and Papeete, while warning about a request for independence which would not be prepared. “We are respectful of the choices of the Polynesians and I congratulated President Brotherson upon his election”, he recalled.
“We are going to (…) discuss economic development because there is still a lot of work to do in this area before reaching political projects that are specific to them (the separatists). When I see that we only produce 35% of what we consume here, we must first achieve food autonomy, economic and agricultural autonomy, rather than thinking about other things”.
An “intact” desire for independence and self-determination
Gérald Darmanin is in French Polynesia for a visit until Saturday with the Minister of Sports and the Olympic Games, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra and the Minister Delegate for Overseas Philippe Vigier, while Tahiti is preparing to welcome the surfing events of the 2024 Olympic Games, on the Teahupo’o wave.
Asked by AFP about his relations with the state, Moetai Brotherson spoke of “respectful discussions” with the ministerial delegation, while specifying that his “desire for independence and self-determination” was “intact”. “We had very frank discussions on this and they know very well that their interlocutor is a separatist and is not going, tomorrow morning when he wakes up, to turn into an autonomist or a departmentalist”, he concluded.