Prior to the World War II summit in Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron will welcome his US counterpart Donald Trump to the Élysée Palace on Saturday morning. For Trump it is the first trip abroad after the congressional elections.
In the afternoon, Macron commemorates Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) near the northern French city of Compiègne at the end of the First World War 100 years ago. The truce had been signed on November 11, 1918 in a converted dining car in a clearing. At the place there is a memorial.
In the run-up to World War II memory, Macron had proposed in a radio interview on Tuesday, the establishment of a European army. The broadcaster Europe 1 said Macron: "We have to defend ourselves facing China, Russia and even the United States of America."
As soon as he landed in France, Trump reacted as usual on Twitter. That Macron count the US as one of Europe's enemies is "very insulting," wrote Trump. "Perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which is heavily subsidized by the US."
Europeans and Americans have been arguing over the financial resources of NATO since Trump's inauguration. Trump accuses the Europeans of doing too little for the military alliance. However, he himself had described NATO as "obsolete".
Great memorial service in Paris
The now newly fueled dispute comes at an inopportune time – namely, immediately before the international commemoration of the First World War, which was supposed to stand for peacekeeping.
Around 60 heads of state and government are expected in the French capital over the weekend, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The highlight will be a big commemoration on the Parisian triumphal arch on Sunday.
Macron's push for a European army should be seen in the context of his broad efforts to reform the EU. The French president has repeatedly argued in favor of deeper European integration – but has always failed, especially in financial matters to Chancellor Merkel.
In just over a week Macron wants to give a speech in the Bundestag. He followed an invitation from Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said the Elysée Palace on Friday evening. The occasion is a ceremony on the occasion of the Memorial Day.
Last Sunday, Steinmeier had already taken part in a concert commemorating the end of World War II in Strasbourg.