Dozens of leaders gather for the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War

Some 70 Heads of State and Government gathered in Paris to mark the Centenary of the Armistice of the First World War, an Unconventional and High Security Gathering That French President Emmanuel Macron Wants to Use to Promote Multilateralism in international relations.

Dozens of leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, were greeted in the morning at the Elysee Palace by Mr. Macron and his wife, Brigitte.

A grand ceremony was held under the Arc de Triomphe, at the top of the famous Avenue des Champs-Elysées, under which lies the Unknown Soldier and perpetually burns its flame of remembrance, recalling the magnitude of a conflict that has made more 18 million dead.

The Russian and American presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump were not expected at the Elysee, but went directly to the Place de l’Etoile where the Arc de Triomphe is located for the ceremony. Three Femen activists forced the security apparatus of the official procession of Mr. Trump during his passage before being stopped by the police.

The security presence was massive, with some 10,000 members of the security forces squaring the hotspots of the ceremonies. The last time Paris has welcomed so many dignitaries goes back to January 11, 2015 after the Islamist attacks against Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish store Hyper Hide.

At the foot of the Arc de Triomphe, under a shelter installed to protect the audience from the rain, the famous American cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed the Sarabande of Cello Suite No 5 in C minor by Johann Sebastian Bach, the singer Angélique Kidjo sang in homage to the colonial troops and high school students read testimonies of 1918.

A message for Trump

The French president then gave a speech, combining memory of the Great War and contemporary pangs.

Add our hopes instead of opposing our fears!

Emmanuel Macron, President of France

Addressing the 72 world leaders, he urged them to “fight for peace” by rejecting “withdrawal, violence and domination”, again advocating a multilateral approach to global governance at a time when more and more countries seem inclined to turn their backs on him, foremost among which, the United States, first power of the world.

Then he revived the flame of the Unknown Soldier, and the dignitaries then converged on the presidential palace for dinner. Some of them went after the Paris Peace Forum, attacking the second part of this day high point for Emmanuel Macron, after a week of commemorations in France. Donald Trump has chosen not to attend this forum which will continue until Tuesday, without the heads of state. The American president had to go instead to the American cemetery of Suresnes, just near Paris, to pay tribute to his fellow citizens who fell at the front.

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