10 Jan 2011

Sarkozy seeks new deal with French overseas territories

3:42 pm on 10 January 2011

The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, has called on the French overseas territories to seek a new relationship with Paris, saying the past has been characterised by paternalism and guilt.

Speaking in Guadeloupe to give his New Year's wishes to all French overseas, Mr Sarkozy has admitted that last year was difficult and dense for the territories.

Walter Zweifel reports.

"Nicolas Sarkozy says financial restrictions being faced by France have to be shared by the overseas territories. But he says change will come through the state that will give its overseas citizens preference over mainland French when public service positions are to be filled in their respective territories. In reference to French Polynesia, Mr Sarkozy says a new electoral system will be put in place so that the territory can be governed properly, in an allusion to the political instability of the last seven years. And he says if a territory is in a mess, the state won't hesitate to intervene. Mr Sarkozy also confirmed that he'll open the Pacific Games in New Caledonia, saying he will everything for the territory's peace to be maintained."