French President Emmanuel Macron said in an address to
world leaders in Paris Sunday that nationalism is a betrayal of
With US President Donald Trump and Russian President
Vladimir Putin sitting in the nearby audience, Macron said that
“old demons are reawakening” and warned against ignoring the
past as a lesson to the danger of nationalist
There has been a resurgence in nationalist-populist
sentiment across Europe, echoing trends in Russia and the
PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron used an
address to world leaders gathered in Paris for Armistice
commemorations on Sunday to send a stern message about the
dangers of nationalism, calling it a betrayal of moral values.
With US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir
Putin sitting just a few feet away listening to the speech via
translation earpieces, Macron denounced those who evoke
nationalist sentiment to disadvantage others.
“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism: nationalism is
a betrayal of patriotism,” Macron said in a 20-minute address
delivered from under the Arc de Triomphe to mark the 100th
anniversary of the end of World War One.
“By pursuing our own interests first, with no regard to others’,
we erase the very thing that a nation holds most precious, that
which gives it life and makes it great: its moral values.”
Trump, who has pursued “America First” policies since entering
the White House and in the run-up to the congressional elections
this month declared himself a “nationalist”, sat still and
stony-faced in the front row as Macron spoke.
There was no immediate response from either the White House or
the Kremlin to Macron’s comments.
In the week ahead of Sunday’s commemoration, Macron spent time
touring World War One battlefields in northern and eastern
France, repeatedly warning in speeches of the resurgence of
nationalism, saying it threatened the unity so carefully rebuilt
in Europe over the past 70 years.
In one interview, he compared the political tone now to the
1930s, saying complacency towards unbridled nationalism then had
opened the way for the rise of Hitler.
In part, his warnings seemed aimed at far-right parties that have
gained ground across Europe in recent elections, including in
France, where the National Front, now renamed the National Rally,
has nudged ahead of Macron’s En Marche movement in the polls
ahead of European Parliament elections next May.
Besides France, right-wing nationalist or populist parties are on
the rise or now have a stake in power in Italy, Hungary, Poland,
Austria and Slovenia, among others.
There has been a similar resurgence in nationalist-populist
sentiment from Brazil to Turkey and the Philippines, echoing
trends in Russia and the United States and challenging the
multilateralism that leaders like Macron are keen to preserve.
In his address on Sunday, Macron said that “old demons are
reawakening” and warned against ignoring the past.
“History sometimes threatens to repeat its tragic patterns, and
undermine the legacy of peace we thought we had sealed with the
blood of our ancestors,” he said.
Asked in late October what he meant when he described himself as
a nationalist, Trump cited his love of the country and said it
was about putting it first economically.
“We’re giving all of our wealth, all of our money, to other
countries and then they don’t treat us properly,” he said.
“For many years other countries that are allies of ours… they
have not treated our country fairly. So in that sense, I am
absolutely a nationalist and I’m proud of it.”
(Additional reporting by Richard Lough and Laurence Frost;
Editing by Laurence Frost)