An invitation by the French President to Donald Trump to attend July 14 national holiday celebrations in Paris has sparked debate.
Some commentators say the US President’s participation in the military parade for Bastille Day, alongside American and French troops, is a sign Emmanuel Macron does not want to let very public differences over climate change affect bilateral ties.
President Trump plans to travel to Paris next month for Bastille Day after accepting President Macron’s invitation https://t.co/lEuCL2oLtw— New York Times World (@nytimesworld) June 29, 2017
Others describe Trump’s visit to Paris, to also commemorate the US entry into World War One, as a political and media coup for Macron, who is keen to establish himself on the world stage.
“Macron is not inviting Donald Trump, he is inviting the President of the United States”— Nicholas Dungan (@Nicholas_Dungan) June 29, 2017
FAF_France</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/FAF_US">FAF_US https://t.co/dk1a979pVq
Bastille Day marks the storming of the prison at Bastille in Paris in 1789 during the French Revolution.
Macron has been praised by anti-Trump groups for apparently standing up to the US President on climate change, transforming the US President’s ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan into ‘Make the Planet Great Again’.
But the French leader has also made it clear he wants to have a pragmatic relationship with Trump and work together on issues where there is agreement. One of those areas is the fight against terrorism.
It is also reported that Macron has not given up hope that Trump will change his mind on pulling out of the Paris agreement on climate change and that he can be lobbied on the issue.
A far-left political leader and former presidential candidate, Jean-Luc Melenchon, has already spoken out against Trump’s visit to Paris, echoing similar opposition that has been voiced about a possible state visit by Trump to the UK.
Melenchon described Trump as ‘violent’ and said he should not be welcomed to Paris.
Some reports in France say the idea of issuing an invitation to Trump was decided well before Macron took office, in fact by the presidency of Francois Hollande.
This year’s Bastille Day parade on the Champs-Elysees marks the 100th anniversary of the US entering WW1 in 1917.
GG_RMC</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/Olivier_Truchot">Olivier_Truchot
AlainMarschall</a> 😉😊<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LeD%C3%AEnerDeCons?src=hash">#LeDînerDeCons</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Macron?src=hash">#Macron</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Trump?src=hash">#Trump</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/14Juillet?src=hash">#14Juillet</a> <a href="https://t.co/VZcIGIEgDe">pic.twitter.com/VZcIGIEgDe</a></p>— Amandine (AmandineDachard) June 29, 2017
Pascal Boniface from the Institute of International and Strategic Relations in Paris (IRIS) is quoted by France’s 20 Minutes website as saying the invitation comes at a good time for Macron, describing it as a “nice political and media coup”.
Isabelle Davion, an historian at the Paris-Sorbonne university, told “20 Minutes” there would be other benefits: “We’re asking Donald Trump to come and pay tribute to the values of the French Revolution and to the ‘Lumieres’ principles that were crystallised by July the 14th.”
“It’s also a military parade and there is a desire to show the power of the French military.”
Experts also talk about the first awkward handshake that took place between the two men during a NATO summit in Brussels in May: Macron had a firm grip that made his knuckles go white.
The French leader later told France’s ‘Journal du Dimanche’ newspaper that his handshake was not “innocent” but a “moment of truth”.
“Macron wants to show that he’s not afraid of having contact, that he will neither ostracise a state nor give in to their demands,” said Pascal Boniface.