Macron warns of nationalist demons
More than 60 world leaders gathered in Paris to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the grim weather was fitting to mark the end of four years of bloodshed.
Donald Trump arrived after the others in his “Beast” limousine.
Trump cancelled an earlier visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery next to Belleau Wood near Paris because of poor weather.
The cemetery marks the site where 1,811 US servicemen were killed in 1918.
Nicholas Soames, a UK Conservative MP and grandson of Winston Churchill, tweeted: “They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen.”
Trump sparked further irritation by tweeting: “Is there anything better to celebrate than the end of a war, in particular that one, which was one of the bloodiest and worst of all time?”
The French were not “celebrating” 1918 but commemorating the event and honouring the victims.
Macron warned against rising nationalism and praised the EU and UN contribution to peace.
Macron’s great-grandfather was a British soldier on the Somme called George Robertson, while other family members fought for France.
He said the large gathering would be remembered as “a symbol of lasting peace or the last moment of unity before the world falls into disorder. That depends on us.”
But the 40-year-old said the return of “old demons” threatened peace.
“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism.”
Trump, who calls himself a nationalist, was treated to a topless, feminist protest from the Femen group activists who broke through a security barrier.
The event was attended by the presidents of Serbia and Kosovo, which are struggling to normalise relations since the 1999 war for independence.
French commentators criticised the lack of a high-level British political or royal representation.
David Lidington, the unofficial deputy prime minister and cabinet minister, attended the event.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel denounced the “national vaingloriousness and military arrogance” that sparked the “senseless bloodshed” of two global conflicts.
“Most of the challenges today cannot be solved by one nation alone, but together. That’s why we need a common approach,” Merkel said.
“If isolation wasn’t the solution 100 years ago, how can it be today in such an interconnected world?”
Trump did not attend a peace forum concentrating on international cooperation after the ceremony and instead visited a US military cemetery in Suresnes (pictured), west of Paris.
The First World War failed to establish a lasting peace. Picture credit: Wikimedia