Macron warns against nationalism, scepticism in New Year's message
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French President Emmanuel Macron delivered the traditional New Year's Eve address from the Élysée Palace on Sunday, calling for a renewed spirit of unity within France and warning against falling prey to nationalism and scepticism.
Click on the video player above to watch Macron's New Year's Eve address.
It will be a “decisive” year, Macron predicted.
On the international stage, France will continue to take “determined action” in the fight against Islamist terrorism in the Levant and the Sahel.
He went on to pay tribute to those who, even now, are on the field of battle as well as their comrades who have fallen in 2017.
Macron has said he believes the Islamic State group will be close to eradicated in Syria by February. But even as combat in some regions winds down, new challenges emerge.
“We must win the peace,” he said.
Closer to home, Macron went on to underscore the importance of a united Europe, particularly in the face of the Brexit vote that has threatened the bloc’s cohesion.
“Europe is a good thing for France. France cannot succeed without a strong Europe.”
“We must not give in to nationalism,” Macron said, adding that a “close dialogue with our German friends is a necessary prerequisite for European progress”.
He also called for renewed unity within France. Debate and disagreements on key issues are legitimate, but “irreconcilable divisions” undermine the country as a whole.
More “fraternity” is what is needed, Macron said, in a reference to France’s national motto of Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité (Freedom, Equality, Fraternity).
Macron also addressed the perennial question of inequality, asking: “What good is success if only a few succeed?”
This type of achievement is not durable, he said, calling for a new “social project” that would offer help to everyone, notably the disabled, the homeless and society’s most vulnerable.
'We are capable of exceptional things'
Turning his attention to the hot-button issue of welcoming refugees to Europe, Macron was adamant: Offering refugees asylum is a moral requirement, although “simple rules” must also be put in place to ensure the new arrivals are legitimately seeking asylum.
“We must welcome the men and women who are fleeing countries where they are threatened because of their origins, their religion or their political convictions,” Macron said. “This ‘right of asylum’ is a moral political right and I will not acquiesce in this regard … We will continue to welcome these men and women because France is their homeland.”
As the new year begins, the French president said he wished to express his sincere determination that together the country would be able to bring about a new “French renaissance”.
“The French people are a great people who sometimes underestimate their innate strengths,” Macron said. “We are capable of exceptional things.”
“I wish you every success in 2018,” he said in closing. “Long live the Republic. Long live France.”
For almost 60 years, French presidents have offered their New Year's Eve greetings. Click on the video player below to see how past French leaders have handled this presidential duty.