Macron says France won’t ‘tear down statues’ amid anti-racism protests

French president acknowledges that some citizens still face discrimination because of their race.

Macron says France won’t ‘tear down statues’ amid anti-racism protests

PARIS — France will not be tearing down statues or rewriting its history in response to pressure from anti-racism activists, President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday.

“The republic will erase no trace or names of its history, it will forget none of its works, it will tear down none of its statues. We must instead lucidly look together at our history, and in particular our relationship with Africa,” Macron said in a televised address.

The French president has faced increasing demands over the past two weeks to bring down statues and revisit other works of art that honor French historical figures involved in slavery and France’s colonial history amid protests against police brutality and racism. Similar movements in the U.S., Belgium and U.K. have toppled or defaced statues of such figures in their countries.

Still, Macron notably recognized that some French citizens continue to face discrimination because of their race, in a country that bans racial statistics.

“Our fight must continue … to fight against the fact that one’s name, address, skin color still all too often reduce the equal opportunities everyone should have,” Macron said.

He also reiterated his support for law enforcement, who have protested in recent days to denounce what they say was a lack of proper support by Interior Minister Christophe Castaner. At the beginning of last week and in response to protests, Castaner had initially banned the use of chokeholds during arrests, and said officers should be suspended for acts of racism, or “verified suspicion” of racism.

Days later, after meeting with angry police unions, Castaner backtracked on suspensions linked to a “verified suspicion” and said chokeholds could be allowed only to get suspects onto the ground.

“Without republican order, there is no security or freedom, and this order is ensured by police officers and gendarmes,” Macron said.

Source : Politico EU More   

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Macron teases plan to recast presidency after coronavirus crisis

French president sketches out the main themes of the next two years of his mandate.

Macron teases plan to recast presidency after coronavirus crisis

PARIS — Emmanuel Macron sent strong signals on Sunday that he plans to reset his presidency by pivoting to more environmentally-friendly economic policies with more social welfare and less dependence on foreign production.

After announcing that all coronavirus related restrictions would be lifted across the country starting Monday, except for restrictions on large gatherings, Macron sketched out the main themes of the next two years of his mandate.

“Our first priority is to rebuild a strong, environmental, sovereign economy [with strong social] solidarity,” Macron said in a pre-recorded televised address on Sunday. “This economic, environmental reconstruction with social welfare will be the key to our independence.”

Macron’s focus on social solidarity, eco-friendliness and ramped up national industrial capacities is a departure from his traditional policies and the clearest sign yet of how he plans to reinvent his political program to regain public support. The coronavirus crisis forced him to suspend some of his most emblematic economic reforms and exposed France’s dependence on China, which weakened its initial response to the epidemic.

Early on in his presidency, he had urged more European sovereignty on issues like military capabilities and the rollout of next-generation 5G mobile networks which he qualified as strategic, but the push for national industrial capacities in the medical field started during the crisis and is now being expanded.

Macron on Sunday also advocated again for the European recovery fund as set out by a Franco-German initiative, saying it would be “an unprecedented step in our European adventure and the consolidation of an independent Europe that gives itself the ability to affirm its identity, its culture, its singularity in the face of China, of the U.S. and the global disorder we are seeing.”

Macron also promised to grant more powers to local authorities, without going as far as explicitly mentioning decentralization, in a country with a hyper-centralized governance.

And he tried several times to defend his track record in managing the crisis and persuade the French people that the country had handled it well, arguing the government had taken unprecedented economic measures that most other governments can’t afford, such as pumping €500 billion into the economy under various schemes.

“I want you tonight to measure this fully. In how many countries was all this done? That’s fortunate and it shows the strength of our state and our social model,” Macron said. “We can be proud of what was done, and of our country.”

Macron’s approval ratings have been steadily slipping after an initial bump at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, with a majority of French people disapproving of the government’s handling of the crisis, and a widespread perception that Germany handled the situation better.

Macron is mulling a government reshuffle, among other options, and promised to flesh out his plans in another speech in July.

Source : Politico EU More   

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