France accuses Azerbaijan of interfering in New Caledonia

France accused Azerbaijan on May 17 of interfering in the conflict in New Caledonia, and spreading anti-French propaganda on social media to enflame the unrest in the French overseas territory. The charge was based on a report published by the French state investigative agency Viginum, alleging that Azerbaijan has disseminated "manifestly inaccurate or misleading content—photo or video montages—blaming France for its handling of the situation in New Caledonia in the context of the riots." The report came one day after French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin accused Azerbaijan of making an agreement with the New Caledonia independence leadership, implying that this was retaliation for French support of Armenia in the conflict between the two Caucasus nations. Darmanin further added that France will not cede to the violence, and that it maintains sovereignty over New Caledonia.

Azerbaijan's foreign ministry strongly rejected the accusations and denied any ties with protest leaders. The statement further accused France of a long history of "crimes against humanity" and the "brutal murder of millions of innocent people" in its colonial holdings. 

The Baku Initiative Group, a political enterprise started by Azerbaijan that aims to support anti-colonialist movements, issued a statement May 16 condemning France's new amendment to the electoral structure in New Caledonia, which sparked the current unrest. The amendment would give the right to vote to residents who have been living for at least 10 years in the country, including French nationals, in the provincial ballots.

The protests started on May 13, after approval of the constitutional amendment by the French National Assembly. France has imposed a curfew and a ban on public gatherings in New Caledonia, and declared a state of emergency May 16.

From Jurist, May 18. Used with permission.