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State visit: Macron speech in Dresden: “We must defend Europe”

State visit: Macron speech in Dresden: “We must defend Europe”

Macron regularly makes pleas for a strong and sovereign Europe. He rarely receives as much cheering as he did in front of thousands of young people in Dresden. And he has an important message ahead of the European elections.

Cheered on like a star by tens of thousands of young listeners, French President Emmanuel Macron made a passionate plea for Europe in Dresden. “We must rediscover the strength and commitment to defend it (Europe) everywhere,” appealed the French head of state in front of the Frauenkirche. During his speech he repeatedly switched from French to German and enthused the predominantly young audience with his ambitious visions and personal notes. The climax was his appearance at the “Fête de l’Europe”, when Macron sang the European anthem with Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a youth choir and the audience.

In his passionate speech, which lasted a good 40 minutes at the historic site, Macron insisted that a strong and sovereign Europe was necessary. Europe is at a crossroads, the French head of state told young people from Poland, the Czech Republic and France. “Europe is a story of peace, prosperity and democracy.” But all of this is now under threat if Europe does not act. Europe could die, warned Macron. “Europe is a guarantor of peace. For many of us, this argument has long sounded outdated. But today there is war in Europe again.”

Particularly in view of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, Macron called for an independent European security and defense policy, and for Europeans to act as allies within NATO. These demands were highlighted by Macron just a month ago in a much-noticed speech at the Sorbonne University in Paris, as well as his vision for an economically independent Europe. In economic policy, Europe must become more sovereign and independent, especially in the face of competition from China and the USA, the President stressed. “Europe needs a growth model for future generations.”

“Europe is not a supermarket”

Less than two weeks before the European elections, Macron warned in Dresden of the rise of extremists in Europe – also against the backdrop of the fact that, according to polls, the right-wing nationalists around Marine Le Pen will become the strongest force in the vote in France and will clearly overtake Macron’s liberals. Democracy and freedom seemed so natural to everyone, said Macron. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, people thought that this wind would spread everywhere.

“But let’s look around us today! Let’s look at the fascination with authoritarian regimes. Let’s look at the illiberal moment we are living through in Europe!” Macron warned that many people want money from Brussels, but want nothing to do with an independent judiciary, freedom of the press, cultural diversity and university autonomy. “This tendency is not a tendency, it is a reality in Hungary. It was a reality until the wonderful elections in Poland.” Macron added: “These ideas are flourishing everywhere in our democracies, and are being given a boost by the extremes, especially the far right.”

The 46-year-old urged: “Let’s wake up! Our Europe is not a supermarket!” Europe is not just a place where people agree on common rules. “It is a pillar of values, culture, individual and political freedoms.” Europe must be defended and the concerns and reasons for anger must be answered with a Europe of respect. “A Europe that, in a way, builds a humanism from the ground up.”

Steinmeier calls for courage and confidence for Europe

Federal President Steinmeier and Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer also campaigned for freedom and democracy in Europe in Dresden. “Europe did not arise from doubt and fear, Europe is the result of courage and confidence; and we must show that now too,” said Steinmeier. Generations have worked to “make this continent a continent of freedom and democracy,” said the German head of state. “It is up to us to continue this work,” he said, looking ahead to the European elections on June 9.

Macron touched by trip to East Germany

Macron, for whom speaking in German is by no means an everyday occurrence, struck a personal tone several times in Dresden, reporting on his first encounters with Germany at school. “I learned the German language and culture and I’m still doing that. I’m doing my best, believe me.” Macron described how he took part in an exchange between his hometown of Amiens and Dortmund. “I discovered your country, which was still divided by the wall at the time.”

Macron is the first French president to travel to East Germany on an official visit. “Today, as the first French president since reunification, to speak to you here in Dresden is a particular honour (…). It touches me deeply,” said the 46-year-old. “It is an honour for me as a Frenchman and friend of Germany, but also as a convinced European.” Macron also briefly mentioned that he had actually been expected to make a state visit to Dresden almost a year ago, but had to cancel the trip at short notice due to severe unrest in France. With a hint of humour, he said in German: “Postponed is not cancelled.”

Source: Stern

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