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Paris Peace Forum: Macron attacks ‘hypocrisy’ over backlash to his NATO criticism

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the start of the Paris Peace Forum, France November 12, 2019.
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the start of the Paris Peace Forum, France November 12, 2019. Copyright Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS
Copyright Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS
By Alasdair Sandford with AFP
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The French president hit out at ‘priggishness and hypocrisy’ in the backlash to his criticism of international institutions including NATO.

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Emmanuel Macron has launched an attack on the “idleness” of those who close their eyes to the inefficiency of today’s global institutions in tackling the world’s problems.

The French president spoke as he welcomed world leaders to the second annual Paris Peace Forum, aimed at boosting international cooperation.

He challenged the backlash to comments he made last week when he described NATO as being in a state of “brain death” – especially for its lack of response to the American withdrawal from northern Syria and subsequent Turkish incursion.

“The risk is… from idleness, to say that we have organisations, we love them, let’s not question them,” Macron said. “We need truth. Priggishness or hypocrisy don’t work in this day and age, because our fellow citizens see it.”

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The Paris Peace Forum aims to foster a multilateral approach to dealing with issues such as climate change, terrorism, migration and cyber insecurity – in the face of increasing international disharmony.

“Collaboration is increasingly difficult as countries are turning inward. Today, the international community fails at producing the needed solutions,” says the forum’s website.

Twenty-seven heads of state, as well as business leaders and NGOs, have been invited to the two-day event at La Villette. Those attending include the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the President-Elect of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, as well as several African leaders.

The meeting chimes with one of the French president’s pet themes: defending multilateralism in the face of rising nationalism. The American and Russian leaders are notable absentees.

The forum’s first edition last year was launched at the same time as the centenary for the end of World War One.

Its website says it has received 700 submissions for projects from some 115 countries. Those selected include a scheme to encourage biodiversity at Europe’s airports, to programmes aimed at protecting the world’s oceans and helping poorer countries tackle climate change.

Examples of projects launched in 2018 are a drive to improve water provision in the Sahel, an effort to boost cross-border cooperation on tax, and a scheme to help refugees in South Korea through taekwondo.

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