Macron renounces 'nationalism' at WWI commemoration in France

By Allen Cone   |   Updated Nov. 12, 2018 at 4:06 AM
President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrive at the Elysee Palace in Paris to attend a lunch that included heads of state and government on the 100th anniversary of World War I Armistice Day. Photo by Eco Clement/UPI French President Emmanuel Macron (C) delivers remarks next to U.S. President Donald J. Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris before a lunch Sunday following the commemoration ceremony for the Centenary of the World War I Armistice. Photo by Jacques Demarthon/EPA/pool French President Emmanuel Macron delivers his speech during the Centenary of the World I Armistice at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Photo by Benoit Tessier/EPA/pool

Nov. 11 (UPI) -- As world leaders gathered Sunday in France to commemorate the end World War I 100 years ago, the host nation's President Emmanuel Macron rebuked "nationalism," which runs contrary to U.S. President Donald Trump's "America First" stance.

As Trump sat nearby, the host nation's leader, Macron decried the foreign policy as the root of the First World War and succeeding conflicts.

At events later Sunday, world leaders denounced "nationalism," including German Chancellor Angela Markel, whose nation surrendered to allies in both world wars.

"Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism," Macron said in French at the ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris marking the centennial of the armistice that ended World War I. "Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying our interests first, who cares about the others, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential: its moral values."

He told the gathered leaders they have a "huge responsibility" to defeat those that threaten a "legacy of peace" after two world wars of the past century.

"I know there are old demons coming back to the surface," the French president told the guests. "They are ready to wreak chaos and death."

Trump did not speak at the event.

On Saturday, during a meeting with Macron, Trump said: "We want to help Europe but it has to be fair."

Earlier, bells at Notre Dame and other cathedrals in Paris as well as across the continent rang at the exact time the armistice took effect: the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, one hundred years ago. Similar World War I commemorations took place in Australia, New Zealand, England and India.

Macron and other leaders walked up the Champs Elysee toward the event site as the bells sounded.

Trump arrived separately from other foreign leaders. His counterparts, including Macron, Merkel and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, met at the Élysée Palace before traveling together in motor coaches to the Arc de Triomphe.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump greeted Macron and other guests, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, as they held umbrellas. Putin gave Trump a thumbs up and patted him on the upper arm.

The event included a review of troops and musical performances.

The world leaders then attended a lunch at Élysée Palace.

Trump later didn't attend the inaugural Paris Peace Forum.

Merkel pleaded for world peace, saying "we must not simply stand by and watch" as conflicts continue. She said "national vaingloriousness and military arrogance" led to the "senseless bloodshed" of two world wars.

"The concern I have is that blinkered nationalist views may gain ground once again," said Markel, indirectly noting the rise of Adolf Hitler in her nation.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also warned of the dangers of nationalistic policies.

"As I see it, several elements today have many parallels with both the start of the 20th century and the 1930s, giving us grounds to fear that an unpredictable chain of events could ensue," Guterres said.

Trump, instead of attending the forum, delivered Veterans Day remarks at Suresnes American Cemetery hosted by the Secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission.

"Through rain, hail, snow, mud, poisonous gas, bullets and more, they held the line and pushed onward to victory," Trump said of the allies, including more than 1,5000 American soldier buried at the cemetery. "A great, great victory. A costly victory but a great victory."

On Saturday afternoon, Trump canceled a commemoration for U.S. soldiers and marines killed during World War I because rain made it impossible to arrange transportation, the White House said.

During a ceremonial dinner Saturday night, Trump was seated next to its president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. That was hours after Erdogan said he had provided the U.S. and other countries with audio tapes of last month's murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

On Saturday, Merkel was among those who attended an event at Compiegne, where Germany surrendered to France and allies after the First World War. It's also where France surrendered to Hitler's Germany at the start of World War II.

"The message, if we want to live up to the sacrifice of those soldiers who said 'never again!', is to never yield to our weakest instincts, nor to efforts to divide us," Macron told a group of youngsters during a visit Saturday to the Compiegne Forest.

Trump then departed France for Washington on Sunday.

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