Best columns: Europe
Corsicans won’t be ignored
No longer the reviled terrorists of old, Corsican nationalists will soon govern the French island, said Le Monde. A coalition of separatists and autonomists swept the first round of Corsica’s elections this week, and it’s poised to take the second as well, giving it a mandate to demand autonomy. Such a victory was unthinkable just a few years ago. No one in France has forgotten the four decades of bombings by separatists, the “murderous vendettas among militants,” the thuggishness and banditry. It’s been a mere 20 years since the assassination of Claude Érignac, the island’s French prefect who was gunned down by the National Front for the Liberation of Corsica. But that terrorist group’s sudden decision in 2014 to renounce armed struggle and “swap weapons for ballots” has paid off well. “It’s a very strong message to Paris,” says coalition leader Gilles Simeoni. “We want peace, we want democracy, we want an emancipated island.” What they don’t want, of course, is true independence—their economy relies too heavily on state jobs and state funding for that. But they will ask for full autonomy, a new tax status, and recognition of their language. President Emmanuel Macron, who has so far “ignored” Simeoni’s movement, “will have to negotiate.”
Brexit reopens old wounds
The Irish Times
Things are getting tense on the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, said Susan McKay. The island wears this border like “a noose around its neck,” and Brexit is tightening the rope. When the U.K. leaves the European Union, it will take Northern Ireland with it. Will we have to show passports and pay customs duties to cross back and forth between the Republic—which will remain in the EU—and the North? Nobody knows. But already, distrust is on the rise. Decades of neglect left towns in ruins on both sides of the border, and now “old animosities are being rehearsed” as strangers trade insults on social media. In the North, bickering Unionists and Nationalists can’t form a government. In the Republic, anti-British sentiment is rising. Mullaghmore, near the border on the Republic side, is where the IRA murdered British naval commander Lord Mountbatten and four others in 1979. When Prince Charles paid a visit there a couple of years ago, he was “warmly welcomed.” But on a sign put up to mark the visit, which featured a smiling photo of the prince, “the face of Charles has recently been gouged out.” Many in Ireland remember a militarized border, with checkpoints, soldiers, and “red torches signaling you to stop in the darkness.” Is it coming back?