Search icon


11th Nov 2018

Emmanuel Macron warns of danger of ‘selfish’ nationalism in front of Trump and Putin at armistice ceremony

James Dawson

The event in Paris marked the 100th anniversary of the First World War armistice

French president Emmanuel Macron has warned of the dangers of nationalism while speaking to a crowd of world leaders, including Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, as they marked the 100th anniversary of the World War I armistice.

Leaders from across the globe gathered at the Arc de Triomphe in central Paris on Sunday, where the unknown soldier is entombed to represent those who died anonymously or whose remains were never discovered.

Making an impassioned speech, the French leader took the opportunity to admonish “selfish” nationalism, warning that “old demons” again threatened peace.

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism,” he said. “Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying our interests first, who cares about the others, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential: its moral values.

“I know there are old demons which are coming back to the surface. They are ready to wreak chaos and death. History sometimes threatens to take its sinister course once again.”

He added: “Europe nearly committed suicide, 1918 that was 100 years ago — it seems very far away. But it was only yesterday.”

The rebuke comes in the wake of Trump describing himself as a “proud nationalist” ahead of this month’s US congressional elections. “Each of these marble crosses and Stars of David marks the life of an American warrior — great, great warriors they are — who gave everything for family, country, God and freedom,” Trump said in his own speech at the event.

Other world leaders in attendance included the Russian president Vladmir Putin, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Theresa May instead attended a commemorative wreath laying in London, but was in Belgium and France for memorial events on Friday,

The event came after Donald Trump was subject to criticism on Saturday after he failed to attend an earlier commemorative event visit due to “bad weather”. A number of people have tweeted the president images of his predecessor Barack Obama attending similar commemorative events in the rain.