France denounces “Annexation” of Crimea by Russia; Moscow reminds France of its history in Mayotte
Paris recalled its opposition to the “annexation” of Crimea. Moscow told her to look to the case of Mayotte, maintained in France by referendum after its declaration of independence from the Comoros archipelago it was part of.
“The annexation of Crimea by Russia is illegal. France repeats it on the occasion of the official visit of President Zelensky” — it is the message published by the English Twitter account of the French diplomacy on June 17, day of the visit of the Ukrainian head of state to Paris. The tweet is accompanied by a video, in which the Quai d’Orsay declares in particular: “The international community, the European Union and France continue to attach great importance to the total restoration of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
French diplomacy was just repeating the constant line of Paris regarding the annexation of Crimea to Russia following the referendum of March 2014. For example the French president Emmanuel Macron declared in June, 2018, “France will not recognize the annexation of Crimea.”
Moscow took advantage of this opportunity to return France to a diplomatic case unknown to Macron: that of Mayotte. “French President Macron should have discussed Mayotte with his Ukrainian counterpart Zelensky. instead of mentioning the alleged “illegal” annexation of Crimea by Russia. [Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweet]
Mayotte became the 101st French department after a referendum in 2009,” the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted on June 18.
Mayotte, a French “Crimea”?
Mayotte is a French department claimed by the Comoros Islands, and whose membership in France is contested by some countries.
In 1974, in accordance with the principle of the right of peoples to self-determination, France held a referendum on the independence of the Comoros. 96% of the votes were in favor. But the four islands that make up the Comoros were not going to achieve independence: as recalled by France Info, President Giscard d’Estaing, “in particular pressed by the French navy which does not wish to lose this fulcrum, [ …] decides to take into account the result of the referendum island by island.”
However, the voters of Mayotte, populated by Mahorais feeling culturally different from the inhabitants of the other three islands, spoke out against independence.
Thus, when the Comoros proclaimed their independence on July 6 1975, the French government declared itself a few days later “ready to enter into talks with the new authorities on the transfer of responsibilities” … but added: “With regard to the the island of Mayotte, the government will take into account the will thus manifested.”
The French authorities therefore decided to set up a new referendum ion Mayotte on independence or attachment to France. France went so far as to use its right of veto at the UN Security Council in February 1976 to reject a draft resolution asking it to abandon the new referendum.
Organized in 1976, the referendum confirmed with more than 90%, the will of the island to remain French.
France, recalls AFP, was later “energetically condemned at the UN because of its presence in Mayotte, and summoned to withdraw from the island”, an “integral part of the independent republic of the Comoros.”
Thus, in its resolution of December 6, 1994, the UN General Assembly called for respect for the national unity and territorial integrity of the archipelago, arguing that the borders inherited from colonization were intangible.
Finally, in March 2011, Mayotte became the 101st French department after a referendum held in March 2009. The Comorian authorities still claim sovereignty over Mayotte.