‘Place of ul­ti­mate rec­on­cil­i­a­tion’ Macron and Merkel to at­tend cer­e­mony

The Irish Times - Weekend Review - - NEWS REVIEW - LARA MAR­LOWE

Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron and Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel will this af­ter­noon seek to trans­form a place of Franco-Ger­man en­mity and re­venge, the glade where the armistices of 1918 and 1940 were signed, into what a pres­i­den­tial ad­viser called “the place of ul­ti­mate rec­on­cil­i­a­tion”.

The two lead­ers will re­view troops from the Franco-Ger­man bri­gade, con­sid­ered the nu­cleus of a Eu­ro­pean army. They will sit down to sign the guest book at Mar­shal Fer­di­nand Foch’s ta­ble, in a rail­way car that is an ex­act replica of the one where the Armistice was signed 100 years ago.

All four of Macron’s great-grand­fa­thers, three French­men and a Bri­ton, fought in the Great War. Macron of­ten quotes the first World War leader Ge­orges Cle­menceau say­ing ev­ery French per­son owes a debt of grat­i­tude to the poilus.

Right-wing me­dia crit­i­cised Macron for say­ing he did not want com­mem­o­ra­tions to be “too mil­i­tary”. Oth­ers ob­jected when the army said an homage at Les In­valides to the eight field mar­shals of the first World War would in­clude Philippe Pé­tain, the hero of Ver­dun who went on to lead the col­lab­o­ra­tionist Vichy regime in the 1940s. Macron ini­tially de­fend Pé­tain’s record as a “great sol­dier” in the first World War. Then the gov­ern­ment switched sig­nals, say­ing Pé­tain would not be hon­ored.

Tonight, Paris will be­come “the cap­i­tal of the cen­te­nary” when the pres­i­dent and first lady Brigitte Macron in­vite more than 70 heads of state and gov­ern­ment and in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions to an ex­hi­bi­tion of Pi­casso’s blue and pink pe­ri­ods at the Musée d’Or­say, fol­lowed by din­ner in the mu­seum.

To­mor­row morn­ing, the same dig­ni­tar- ies will re­con­vene at the Arc de Tri­om­phe, where Macron will de­liver his main ad­dress. Taoiseach Leo Varad­kar will rep­re­sent Ire­land.

Pres­i­dents Don­ald Trump and Vladimir Putin are sched­uled to at­tend. They were to have met on the side­lines of the com­mem­o­ra­tion to dis­cuss the US with­drawal from the 1987 In­ter­me­di­ate-Range Nu­clear Forces Treaty. But Mr Trump said on Mon­day that the meet­ing will “prob­a­bly not” hap­pen in Paris.

The Amer­i­can cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Béni­noise singer Angélique Kidjo will per­form at the Arc de Tri­om­phe. The Eu­ro­pean Youth Orches­tra will play Ravel’s

Bolero. Ravel was a front­line lorry driver dur­ing the first World War.

Four lunches will fol­low the cer­e­mony at the Arc de Tri­om­phe. Heads of state and gov­ern­ment will dine at the Élysée with the Macrons, for­eign min­is­ters at the for­eign min­istry, the mil­i­tary at Les In­valides and lo­cal of­fi­cials and par­lia­men­tar­i­ans at the prime min­is­ter’s of­fice.

At 3.30pm to­mor­row, Chan­cel­lor Merkel will de­liver the open­ing ad­dress at the Paris Peace Fo­rum at the Grande Halle de La Vil­lette. The Élysée ex­pects 10,000 peo­ple to par­tic­i­pate in the fo­rum from Novem­ber 11th to 13th.

The goal of the Peace Fo­rum is “to dis­cuss peace to­day, the way we must or­gan­ise and act col­lec­tively to pro­mote not only last­ing peace but . . . just de­vel­op­ment, demo­cratic rights and free­doms and preser­va­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment,” the Élysée said.

Macron wants the Peace Fo­rum to be­come an an­nual “po­lit­i­cal Davos”.

Right-wing me­dia crit­i­cised Macron for say­ing he did not want com­mem­o­ra­tions to be ‘too mil­i­tary’

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