Strasbourg, France: France, Britain and the United States carried out air strikes targeting chemical weapons sites in Syria to defend the “honour of the international community”, French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday.
“Three countries have intervened, and let me be quite frank, quite honest — this is for the honour of the international community,” Macron said in an impassioned defence to the European Parliament.
He warned Europe against the temptations of “authoritarianism” both around the world and inside the European Union itself.
In his first speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Macron said there was a “sort of European civil war” and called on the bloc to defend democracy.
The young French leader’s call to arms comes after eurosceptic populists won elections in Hungary and Italy, and as Brussels confronts Poland’s right-wing government over the rule of law.
“I don’t want to belong to a generation of sleepwalkers, I don’t want to belong to a generation that’s forgotten its own past,” the 40-year-old president said in a speech outlining his vision for the future of the EU.
“I want to belong to a generation that will defend European sovereignty because we fought to obtain it. And I will not give in to any kind of fixation on authoritarianism,” he added.
Macron’s election last year, defeating the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, and his ardent pro-Europeanism have made him the poster boy for those aiming for a revived post-Brexit EU to battle the challenges of populism.
Macron said he was concerned by the growing sense of “doubt” in several European countries in the wake of the shock 2016 Brexit vote, which he said was creating divisions in the EU.
“There seems to be a sort of European civil war. There is a fascination with the illiberal and it’s growing all the time,” Macron told MEPs in the eastern French city.
His speech comes just days after Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban won a crushing re-election victory. – AFP
Story first published: 17th April 2018