At Ver­sailles, Macron says he will lift France’s state of emer­gency

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

PARIS — French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron vowed on Mon­day to lift a state of emer­gency that has been in place since 2015, but also to harden per­ma­nent se­cu­rity mea­sures to fight ex­trem­ism and other threats.

Lay­ing out his po­lit­i­cal, se­cu­rity and diplo­matic pri­or­i­ties at an ex­tra­or­di­nary joint session of par­lia­ment at the chateau of Ver­sailles, Macron said his govern­ment “will work to pre­vent any new at­tack, and we will work to fight (the as­sailants) with­out pity, with­out re­grets, with­out weak­ness”.

At the same time, he in­sisted on the need to “guar­an­tee full re­spect for in­di­vid­ual lib­er­ties” amid con­cerns that new mea­sures would al­low po­lice too many pow­ers.

Macron vowed to main­tain the coun­try’s mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tions against ex­trem­ists abroad. He also in­sisted on the im­por­tance of main­tain­ing “the path of ne­go­ti­a­tion, of di­a­logue” for long-term so­lu­tions.

In his bid to strengthen the Euro­pean Union af­ter Brexit, he an­nounced Europe-wide public con­fer­ences later this year in an ef­fort to rein­vig­o­rate the bloc.

He said he un­der­stood why many Euro­peans see the EU as bu­reau­cratic, distant and un­car­ing.

“I firmly be­lieve in Europe, but I don’t find this skep­ti­cism un­jus­ti­fied,” he said.

He added that Euro­pean coun­tries should work more closely to help po­lit­i­cal refugees while fight­ing mi­grant-smug­gling and strength­en­ing bor­ders against il­le­gal mi­gra­tion.

Macron has pledged to ful­fill his cam­paign prom­ise to bring about deep changes in France, no­tably through la­bor re­form and a se­ries of mea­sures to put more trans­parency and ethics into pol­i­tics.

In the 90-minute speech, Macron also pledged to re­duce the num­ber of seats in par­lia­ment which now stand at 925 by one third, so that “work will be­come more fluid”.

He promised to gather both houses of par­lia­ment in Ver­sailles ev­ery year, to be ac­count­able.

“The re­forms and deep changes I have promised will be im­ple­mented,” he said.

Af­ter his new cen­trist party dom­i­nated par­lia­men­tary elec­tions and split the op­po­si­tion, po­lit­i­cal ri­vals are com­par­ing Macron to Napoleon, or the Ro­man king of the gods, Jupiter.

Crit­ics have com­plained about the cost of the Ver­sailles event, and ac­cused Macron of con­ven­ing it for rea­sons of self-in­ter­est in­stead of na­tional need. The last such joint par­lia­ment session was in the wake of Novem­ber 2015 ex­trem­ist at­tacks, the dead­li­est vi­o­lence to hit France in half a cen­tury.

Macron also ap­peared to be up­stag­ing his prime min­is­ter, who is sched­uled to give his first big par­lia­ment speech on Tues­day, where he will face his first con­fi­dence vote.

ERIC FEFERBERG / REUTERS

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron de­liv­ers a speech dur­ing a spe­cial congress at the Ver­sailles Palace, near Paris, on Mon­day.

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