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France Accuses Azerbaijan for Violence in New Caledonia

France is accusing Azerbaijan for the protests and violence that has erupted in its Pacific Island territory of New Caledonia due to the French government’s decision to change a voting law that threatens the voting power of the indigenous Kanak community. 

Azerbaijan, which hasn’t had much presence in the Asian Pacific, and is almost 8,700 miles away from New Caledonia, has denied the allegations by France. 

The French government responded by mentioning that these reforms “uphold democracy in the archipelago.” However, local people, particularly from the Indigenous Kanak communities, who amount to 40 percent of the islands’ population – “fear this will undermine their efforts to win independence from France.”

New Caledonia is one of the largest French overseas territories located between Australia and Fiji. France conquered the territory in 1853 and deliberately populated it with French citizens who then displaced the Indigenenous Kank communities. 

Five people have been killed and hundreds injured in the violent protests, the worst violence New Caledonia witnessed in 30 years, according to experts. France then declared a state of emergency in New Caledonia on Wednesday, May 15 and stationed 500 additional military and police personnel to the territory. 

France shifted the blame to Azerbaijan after allegedly spotting Azerbaijani flags alongside Kanan symbols at the protests.

Azerbaijan on the other hand has been vocal against what it considers to be French colonialism. Back in 2023, the country invited pro-independence participants from the French territories of Martinique, French Guiana, New Caledonia and French Polynesia for a conference entitled, “Towards the Complete Elimination of Colonialism.”

This conference resulted in the formation of the Baku Initiative Group whose objective is to “support the just struggle of the peoples suffering from the colonial policy of France.”

This week, the Group released a statement stating, “We stand in solidarity with our Kanak friends and support their fair struggle.”

“We refute any connection between the leaders of the struggle for freedom in Caledonia and Azerbaijan,”  Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ayhan Hajizadeh said, in response to the allegations by France. 

Azerbaijan has also previously condemned French colonialism in overseas territories.

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