Together, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel commemorate the end of the First World War 100 years ago. To this end, the two will visit a memorial near the northern French town of Compiègne, where on 11 November 1918 the truce in a converted dining car was signed in a clearing.
In the morning, Macron will meet his US counterpart Donald Trump at the Élyséal Palace in Paris. For Trump it is the first trip abroad after the congressional elections. On Sunday, the "World War II Summit" begins in Paris.
Notwithstanding the commemoration of the World War, the Paris summit was tense, diplomats said. At the latest with Trump's unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran, there were upsets between the US on one side and France and Germany on the other. In addition, Trump sparked a trade dispute with the EU and stepped out of the world climate agreement.
Trump accuses Macron of insulting
New trouble came shortly after the arrival of the US president in France. Trump criticized Macron's recent demands for the establishment of its own European army. "France's President Macron has just proposed that Europe build its own military to protect itself from the US, China and Russia," Trump wrote on Friday night on Twitter. That was "very insulting," he added. "But perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of the cost of NATO, which heavily subsidizes the US," the US president continued.
France's head of state justified his demand by warning against "authoritarian powers that are rising and arming at the borders of Europe". Europe must defend itself "with regard to China, Russia and even the US," he told Europe 1.
About 60 heads of state and government are expected in the French capital this weekend, among them Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The highlight will be a big commemoration on Sunday in the shadow of the Parisian triumphal arch. In the afternoon, the Chancellor visits a peace forum, where she gives the opening speech.
The FDP foreign politician Alexander Graf Lambsdorff called for the anniversary of the end of the war, new impetus for the German-French partnership. 100 years after the war, "it is not enough to commemorate this European and especially Franco-German catastrophe", said Lambsdorff of the German Press Agency.
FDP wants to strengthen exchange programs
"It is clear: Germany must now finally seize the outstretched hand of the French President for a reform of Europe and take up the proposals of Emmanuel Macron," said the FDP faction vice in the Bundestag on. "We need a European foreign policy with a defense union, effective management of migration and external borders, joint initiatives for climate protection and consistent commitment to free trade." Berlin and Paris must "take the lead in all these fields".
In order to maintain the German-French friendship in the long term, Germans and French would have to get to know each other much better, the former MEP demanded. "That's why the Free Democrats are working to strengthen the exchange of students, apprentices and young professionals between our countries."
The First World War is considered by some historians as a "catastrophe" of the 20th century. Almost 9 million soldiers and more than 6 million civilians died. The empires Austria-Hungary, Germany and Russia collapsed just as the Ottoman Empire. From the rubble emerged a variety of new states, especially in Central Europe and the Balkans. Even centers of power gradually shifted, for example from Britain to the USA. (dpa, AFP)