History, modern-day tensions to mix at Paris WWI commemorations

  • Saturday 10, November 2018 in 10:10 AM
Sharjah24 – AFP: World leaders will put on a show of unity this weekend as they commemorate 100 years since the end of World War I, but modern-day tensions will be bubbling under the surface at the remembrances in Paris.
French President Emmanuel Macron will host around 70 leaders on Sunday for a ceremony on the Champs-Elysees to mark the signing of the Armistice between Germany and Allied forces that ended the fighting in Europe.
It will cap a week packed with symbolism to remember the silencing of the guns, with memorials held across the world for a conflict that claimed around 18 million lives and involved more than 70 current-day nations.
Macron, a centrist, has repeatedly invoked the war in recent weeks to hammer home his message that rising nationalism around the globe is again destabilising the world. 
In a speech on Sunday after the commemorations, he will "remind everyone of the need to defend and reinforce global multilateralism", an aide said this week. 
Two figures seen by Macron as responsible for undermining the rules-based world order and its institutions -- US President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin -- will both be in Paris at the weekend.
Macron reportedly requested that they postpone a planned meeting amid fears that the resulting headlines would overshadow the commemorations at the Arc de Triomphe, a memorial to France's war dead. 
"It should be a beautiful period of time," Trump said of his Paris visit before leaving Washington on Friday. "We will have many countries' leadership there, especially since they heard the United States will be there."