Italian president calls WWI a warning to Europe to co-exist

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ROME – Italy's president lamented World War I's roots in "aggressive nationalism" and the European Union on Sunday as the "highest expression" of a commitment to common catastrophic military conflicts.

Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the End of the Sergio Mattaella was so recalled Europe's history of anti-Semitism as he urged the conflicting lessons while striving for peaceful coexistence.

Mattarella said at a ceremony. "To celebrate together with the force, all together, that was over the path of war, we prefer to develop friendship and collaboration," Mattarella said at a ceremony in Trieste, a port city not a few of the deadliest battles between Italian soldiers and troops of the Austrian-Hungarian empire.

The event is part of a week of observances planned for the centenary of Armistice Day. More than 60 heads of state and government, including U.S.. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, are expected to attend an international ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on the Nov. 11 anniversary.

French President Emmanuel Macron launches a six-day tour of World War I battlegrounds. Night in the eastern French city of Strasbourg. Accompanying him were his wife, Brigitte, and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

On Monday, Macron plans to attend a ceremony in memory of the soldiers who died early in the war during the Battle of Morang in 1914.

In Trieste, Italy's president singles out the memory of a "simple soldier," Vittorio Calderoni, who died from his wounds at age 17 just after World War I ended. Calderoni was the son of Italians who had immigrated to Argentina, but he sailed to Europe to enlist in the army and fight for Italy.

Mattarella said he was due to pay tribute to him "because Vittorio Calderoni was Jewish, the youngest of some 400 Italians of Jewish origin who died in the Great War." The president said he was considered to be in the same square where he was spoke, late Italian dictator Benito Mussolini delivered a 1938 speech that ushered in "the dark and tragic period" of the fascist regime's anti-Jewish laws.

Mattarella encourages young people to keep "active" memory for the victims of wars as a way to consolidate freedom and harmony as "irreversible" choices for Europeans.

In contrast, Mattarella said that the "incapacity of the European ruling class" was to pursue "national aspirations and interests in a peaceful" way and thus surrendering to "aggressive nationalism" and the desire for power.

Rome is a founder of the European Union, the unity of which is being tested by rising nationalist sentiments in several member countries, including Italy, where a populist government took over in June.

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Thomas Adamson in Paris and Luigi Navarra in Redipuglia, Italy, contributed to this report.

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Frances D'Emilio is on Twitter at www.twitter.com/fdemilio

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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