A report by the French Institute of International Relations (Ifri) looks at the geostrategic importance of France’s overseas territories.
The authors identify four high-risk areas for conflict that could harm French and European interests: the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea, the Korean peninsula and the northern Indian Ocean (around the Iranian question). Maritime transport could be affected, as could energy supplies and digital flows. This would pose three threats for France: the protection of its overseas territories and inhabitants, the security of maritime flows and the credibility of its role as a power in the Indo-Pacific.
Greater coordination with the overseas territories
Against this backdrop, the authors of the report recommend more pragmatism, and in particular systematic coordination with the overseas territories. The idea would be to impose fewer solutions on the overseas territories and to consult them more.
According to the report, “The local authorities now have significant powers over the management of their economic zones (EEZs). They are actively involved in exercising these powers. France’s Indo-Pacific strategy must be developed in close consultation with local elected representatives”.
Settling the colonial question
The study states that France should address its colonial history with transparency in the region, “because its legitimacy to act and its credibility in the Indopacific stem largely from its overseas territories”. This is no doubt why President Macron has proposed to Caledonia “a path of forgiveness” between France and Caledonia. For France’s Indo-Pacific strategy to be truly effective, the issue of the end of the Nouméa Accord, scheduled for next year, must be resolved. It is easy to understand why the French government is in such a hurry for New Caledonia’s elected representatives to come up with a new agreement for the country’s next institutions…