Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel celebrated Saturday the centenary of the 1918 armistice and the Franco-German reconciliation, on the eve of a grand ceremony that will bring together nearly 70 dignitaries from around the world in Paris.
In the glade of Rethondes, north of Paris, surrounded by autumn trees, the French president and the German chancellor unveiled a plaque on the site of the signing of the armistice ending the fighting of the Great War , bleeding for Europe and the world with 18 million dead.
"On the occasion of the centenary of the Armistice of November 11, 1918, Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, and Mrs. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, reaffirmed here the value of the French reconciliation German at the service of Europe and peace ", is it written on the small plate.
The solemn mine, the two leaders reviewed soldiers of the Franco-German brigade and laid a wreath before visiting the reconstruction of the famous wagon restaurant where the armistice was signed.
– "Incentive to action" –
The symbolic significance was particularly strong: it was the first time since the post-war period that the French president and the head of the German government met in this memorial.
They then discussed with young people that Mr Macron called for "not giving in to the sad passions, the temptations of division", hammering out this political message for more cooperation in a Europe where voters are turning more in addition to currents hostile to European integration.
"This day is not just a day of remembrance but a call to action (…) to do everything possible to restore order to the world in a peaceful way," Angela Merkel told reporters after ceremony.
This message of international cooperation, this desire for multilateral governance, Emmanuel Macron will certainly reaffirm Sunday morning at a grand ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe, and the afternoon at a forum on peace, before the dozens of heads of state and governments invited.
Arrived Friday night in Paris, the impetuous US President Donald Trump, a follower contrary to a diplomatic approach of pressure and direct negotiation, will not participate in the debates of Sunday afternoon, widely divergent spirit of his .
He met early Saturday morning President Macron, the opportunity for a development between the two men on the sensitive issue of European defense.
Just arrived in Paris, the US president had launched an accusing tweet. "President Macron has just suggested that Europe build its own army to protect itself against the United States, China and Russia," he wrote. "Very insulting but maybe Europe should first pay its share to NATO that the United States subsidizes widely!"
Saturday morning, the Elysee assured that there was a "confusion" in the interpretation of the words of Mr. Macron.
"We have become very good friends over the years," Donald Trump assured. But his face was closed and the atmosphere of the meeting far from past demonstrations of complicity.
"We must better share the burden within NATO," Macron said early in the interview at the Elysee, a soft music in the ears of the tenant of the White House who keeps saying that the European countries are not paying enough, while a large part of Europe has been sheltering under the American shield since the post-war period.
– Conversation "fruitful and dense" –
"We want a strong Europe," said the US president. This does not seem to believe the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, who supported exactly the opposite in Lodz in Poland, criticizing Mr Trump for being against "a united and strong Europe".
Since his election, Emmanuel Macron constantly pleads for a European reinforcement of the Defense, France putting precisely forward the strategic uncertainty caused by the positions of Donald Trump.
Deep political disagreements between the two men, on the environment, Iran's nuclear power, trade relations, and generally on the governance of world affairs, for which Mr. Macron defends multilateralism, hated by Mr. Trump.
At the end of the meeting, however, the French president welcomed in a tweet a "fruitful and dense conversation on the fight against terrorism, European defense, Iran, Syria, the Gulf, Libya and many other topics of common interest for France and the United States ".
After a lunch in the presence of Melania Trump and Brigitte Macron, the American president returned to the ambassador's residence. He gave up traveling to the Bois Belleau American Cemetery, about 100 kilometers north-east of Paris, because of bad weather.
This program change, officially justified by the difficulty of flying in the rain the Marine One presidential helicopter, provoked multiple indignant reactions on social networks, including that of Nicholas Soames, British Conservative MP and Winston Churchill's grandson. .
In the evening, Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron, Donald and Melania Trump, Angela Merkel, and several other dignitaries including the Canadian Justin Trudeau went to the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, for a formal dinner, before the grand ceremony of the Arc of Triumph Sunday morning.