Sunday , April 2 2023

Paris celebrates the end of the war but fears for peace


It was a weekend full of symbols that blended the memories of past wars and the tribute of the poor soldiers who highlighted the power of the Franco-German reconciliation in Rethondes and looked to the future through the young reciters and musicians of the Arc de Triomphe ceremony.

Add hope instead of opposing our fears.

"Add our hopes instead of opposing our fears", offered Emmanuel Macron on Sunday after reviewing the various army bodies present on the Place de l'Etoile during the centennial truce of 11 November 1918. Before 84 heads of state and government, veterans and their families, he held a speech full of history lessons and the will to fight "For Peace" by refusal "Withdrawal, Violence and Domination".

A plate with Rethondes

After a week spent in the battlefield of northeastern France, in a war that claimed 18 million lives, Emmanuel Macron found Angela Merkel near Compiègne on Saturday to reveal a plaque on the site's signature armistice. A historic encounter in the post-war period.

Another strong image: that of a large ground floor of the rulers gathered at the Arc de Triomphe in a rainy Paris. "What remains uncertain is how it will be understood, a brilliant symbol or a last moment of unity before the world sinks into a new mess. It depends only on us, the head of the French state at Villette showed a little later at the opening of the first peace forum in Paris.

The concern among the leaders was very palpable. Angela Merkel, who asks – and answers negatively – our ability to form today a framework such as the United Nations and to unanimously sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights … to Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who, at like the Chancellor, lists the dangers that await us.


Like her, she recalled the risk in the blindness and silence of leaders, referring to Christopher Clark's "Sleepwalkers" book. There is a "The polarization of political life and society, the erosion of the rule of law, the democratic principles, the corruption of information, and the fusion of ethnic, religious and national passions, the bitter passions"he insisted.

"The peace we have today is far from obvious"said Angela Merkel, who considers Yemen to be the biggest humanitarian disaster in the world. She recalled 222 violent conflicts in 2017 and the 65 million refugees and displaced people around the world.

Multilateralism is not a hope but a necessity.

Faced with these concerns, "Multilateralism is not a hope but a necessity", repeated Antonio Guterres. In a recent speech on the occasion of the new Chinese Presidency of the Security Council, François Delattre, the French ambassador to the United Nations, also highlighted the danger: "Do not make a mistake: in this multipolar world, the alternative to multilateralism is to return to the areas of influence whose history teaches us the dangers of the world."

Opening Putin

Donald Trump, who did not attend Sunday afternoon's debates, played well on Saturday after meeting with Emmanuel Macron and the controversy that resulted from the suggestion of the French President of a European Army "To protect against the United States, China and Russia" who brought an angry tweet from the American president.

But the atmosphere was hot. The US president's convoy also suffered the attack of three Femans on the Champs Elysees. As for Vladimir Putin, he suggested to the Russian agencies that he wishes to re-establish a comprehensive dialogue with the United States on the Interim Nuclear Power (NIF) ratification treaty ratified in 1988. "This shows the desire to emphasize that the dismantling of arms control regimes is actually American, commented Thomas Gomart, director of the French Institute of International Relations. It also corresponds to an objective of Russian diplomacy, which is to have a large general bargaining to return to the 1991 decisions ".

The two men could meet on the G20 side of Buenos Aires. For a while, a meeting in Paris was not the taste of Elysée, who preferred to see that media attention remains at the November 11 commemorations.

Virginie Robert

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