Macron vows to lift state of emer­gency

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL -

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

Macron has said lit­tle since his elec­tion on May 7, but he spoke for more than an hour to a rare joint ses­sion of the French Par­lia­ment at Ver­sailles, lay­ing out his po­lit­i­cal, se­cu­rity and diplo­matic pri­or­i­ties.

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.”

For his five-year term, Macron vowed to main­tain France’s mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tions against ex­trem­ists abroad, es­pe­cially in Africa’s Sa­hel re­gion and in Iraq and Syria. He also in­sisted on the im­por­tance of main­tain­ing “the path of ne­go­ti­a­tion, of di­a­logue” for longterm solutions.

In his bid to strengthen the Euro­pean Union af­ter Bri­tain’s vote to leave, 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 the smug­gling of mi­grants, and said Europe should strengthen its bor­ders against il­le­gal mi­gra­tion.

He praised France’s cul­tural her­itage, and he warned against those “democ­ra­cies, long­time al­lies, now men­ac­ing the es­tab­lished or­der” — a com­ment that crit­ics said was a dig at U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

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

He said French vot­ers no longer ac­cept the con­flicts of in­ter­est and cor­rup­tion scan­dals that “used to seem al­most nor­mal” in the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal land­scape.

He notably vowed to end the spe­cial court, mostly com­posed of law­mak­ers, that judges gov­ern­ment mem­bers for crimes com­mit­ted while in charge. They will be judged by reg­u­lar judges, with a pro­ce­dure to de­ter politi­cians from us­ing courts to at­tack ri­vals.

Macron also wants to re­duce the num­ber of seats in par­lia­ment — which now stand at 925 — by one third. He also wants to see fewer laws.

“Let’s try to put an end to the pro­lif­er­a­tion of leg­is­la­tion,” he said.

Crit­ics who fear Macron is try­ing to amass too much power or­ga­nized protests over Mon­day’s event.

Law­mak­ers from the far-left party of Jean-Luc Me­len­chon and com­mu­nists de­cided not to at­tend the speech in protest against what they call a “pres­i­den­tial monar­chy,” cit­ing in par­tic­u­lar his plans to over­haul la­bor codes.

Macron has also been crit­i­cized for slight­ing ref­er­ences to res­i­dents of France who are less for­tu­nate or not eco­nom­i­cally suc­cess­ful. That crit­i­cism did not ap­pear to faze him in Mon­day’s speech.

“Pro­tect­ing the weak­est” should not make of them “per­ma­nent wards of the state,” he said.

“Cer­tainly, we’ve got to rec­og­nize the es­sen­tial role of pub­lic ser­vice, and of our civil ser­vants,” he said. “But pro­tect­ing the weak­est doesn’t mean trans­form­ing them into help­less minors. Ev­ery French per­son has a re­spon­si­bil­ity and a role to play in the con­quests to come.”

In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Sylvie Cor­bet and An­gela Charl­ton of The As­so­ci­ated Press; and by Adam Nossiter of

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