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Chirac delivers speech to calm down controversy over colonization history
www.chinaview.cn 2005-12-10 06:20:40

    PARIS, Dec. 10 (Xinhuanet) -- French President Jacques Chirac intervened Friday by a radio-televisioned speech to try to calm down controversy over France colonization history.

    He announced the creation of a mission to "evaluate the actions of parliament in the fields of memory and history" and issue a report within three months, as the French government faces mounting pressure to revoke a law that casts a positive light on the country 's colonial past.

    "Like all nations France has known greatness but also difficult times. There have been moments of light but also moments of darkness. It is a legacy which we must assume in its entirety," Chirac said in a statement.

    "History is the key to a nation's cohesion, but it only takes a little for history to become an agent of division, for passions to inflame and the wounds of the past to re-open," he said.

    "The law's job is not to write history. The writing of history is the task of historians," he said.

    A controversial article in a law voted through the French lower house in February states that "school programmes recognise in particular the positive role of France's presence overseas, notably in north Africa, and give due prominence to the history and sacrifices of French army fighters from these territories".

    The clause has been loudly denounced by rights groups, historians and citizens of France's overseas territories who say it is a blatant attempt to whitewash the colonial past. Enditem 

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