Macron Admits France’s Guilt in French Polynesia
Twenty-five years after France’s last nuclear tests in the South Pacific, President Macron has promised increased compensation for the victims and admitted France’s guilt.
French President Emmanuel Macron has admitted his country’s debt to the victims of nuclear tests in French Polynesia. “The nation owes a debt to French Polynesia,” Macron said during a visit to the French overseas territory. However, he refrained from asking for forgiveness – as demanded by victims’ associations.
“The fault is the fact that we did these tests,” Macron said in a speech in the capital, Papeete. “Especially those between 1966 and 1974 that cannot be called clean.” He admitted that the issue undermined the “trust” between Papeete and Paris. Macron promised clarification and announced that victims would be better compensated in the future. French state officials should go to the most remote areas to track down victims and help them claim compensation.
France had carried out 193 nuclear weapons tests between 1966 and 1996 in the Mururoa Atoll and the Fangataufa Atoll in French Polynesia. Numerous cancers in the region have been linked to the controversial tests.
The victims’ association “193” – based on the number of nuclear weapons tests – had previously demanded an apology from the head of state. Just as Macron recognized the colonization of Algeria as a crime, he must also acknowledge the nuclear tests in the Pacific as “criminal and a form of colonization,” said the chairman of the association.
Macron did not use the word “apology” in his speech. In fact, he defended the decision of his predecessors, starting with Charles De Gaulle, to make France a nuclear power. The test also served to protect French Polynesia, said Macron in Papeete.
Image by Paul Kagame (Flickr) / Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)