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Macron calls rise of far-right an ‘ill wind’ for Europe

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DRESDEN: French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday raised concerns over “ill wind”, around the rise of the ‘far-right’ in European politics. Macron voiced his concerns during a state visit to Germany, ahead of the EU elections.

Macron noted a “fascination with authoritarian regimes” in Europe, whilst singling out the ‘Viktor Orban’ government in Hungary for criticism.

“Everywhere in our democracies these ideas thrive, pushed by the extremes and in particular the far-right” Macron said.

Macron was delivering a speech in the eastern city of Dresden, which has been a ‘bastion of support’, for Germany’s ‘far-right’. “This ill wind is blowing in Europe, so let us wake up” he stated, in front of the city’s famous ‘Frauenkirche church’.

Macron’s trip comes just two weeks ahead of the European Union elections. Polls currently indicate that his ‘centrist’ coalition is trailing the ‘far-right’ and may even struggle to reach a ‘third-place finish’.

Macron, who is undertaking the first state visit by a French president to Germany in a quarter of a century, made a plea to ‘defend democracy against nationalist forces’.

In Germany, the three parties in Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition are polling behind the ‘far-right’ AfD, in surveys. This is despite ‘a series of scandals’ embroiling the anti-immigration party.

‘New responsibility’

“Europe is not just a place where we give ourselves common rules, it is a set of values” Macron said. “We must find the strength and commitment to defend it everywhere” he added.

Macron underlined the threat posed by Russian aggression (since the invasion of Ukraine), saying Europeans had a “new responsibility” to guarantee peace. Without supporting Ukraine and stopping Russia from imposing the “law of the strongest” on the battlefield, there would be no peace in Europe, Macron stated.

“In Ukraine, it is your security, our peace that is at stake,” Macron told the audience (in Dresden). And Europe, he said, must think about “its own defence and security”. The French president repeated a warning that “our Europe could die”.

Earlier, Macron and his wife Brigitte, along with the German presidential couple, had visited the Holocaust memorial in Berlin. The memorial commemorates the six million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis.

Accompanying them was the ‘Nazi hunter’ Serge Klarsfeld and his German wife Beate, who underlined a resurgence in instances of ‘anti-Semitism’, fuelled by Israel’s ongoing assault on Gaza.

“It’s very good that the French president is meeting the German president before this monument, especially at a tragic time for the global Jewish community” said Klarsfeld.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2024

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