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Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale

Macron says Europe must 'wake up' to counter rise of the far right

French President Emmanuel Macron gives a speech during the European Youth Festival "Fete de l'Europe" (Festival of Europe) in front of the Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche) in Dresden, eastern Germany, on 27 May, 2024. AFP - RONNY HARTMANN

Europe needs to "wake up" to authoritarian tendencies among far-right parties and governments, French President Emmanuel Macron said in a speech during his state visit to Germany on Monday, ahead of key European Union elections.

French President Emmanuel Macron delivered a keynote address in Dresden on Monday at day two of his state visit to Germany, talking for several minutes in German.

"I'm speaking here to a part of Europe that has found unity again — German unity. But at the same time [it is an area] which has allowed us not only to enhance Europe, but to allow Europe to be what it was always supposed to be: united," he said.

"And I am not speaking to Eastern Europe, I am speaking to the center of Europe here in Dresden."

He also warned against a growing tendency in Europe to favour extreme right-wing ideas.

"Everywhere in our democracies these ideas thrive, pushed by the extremes and in particular the far right. This ill wind is blowing in Europe, so let us wake up," he said.

Macron’s trip comes two weeks ahead of European Union elections in which polls are indicating his centrist coalition is trailing the far right.

It could even struggle to reach a third-place finish.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and French President Emmanuel Macron review the honour guard in Berlin, Germany 26 May, 2024. © Wolfgang Rattay / Reuters

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

"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 gave his address at the square of Dresden's famous Frauenkirche, a church that symbolizes World War II destruction buyt also German reunification, and the end of the Cold War.

During the World War II, The 18th century building was all but destroyed, then left as a ruin by East German authorities as a monument in its own right.

After the reunification in the 1990s, it was rebuilt and restored, with financial assistance from all over the world.

Young audience

Young people made up much of the crowd, and some of them had even traveled from neighboring countries like Poland and the Czech Republic.

Earlier in the day, Macron honored renowned Nazi hunters Beate and Serge Klarsfeld.

The Franco-German couple dedicated their lives in hunting Nazi war criminals such as former Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie and other Nazis who tried to hide from the public eye.

Beate was given the Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor while Serge received the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor.

"They are fighters for remembrance and fighters for justice. They have fought against forgetting and for the victims of the Holocaust to once again become the subject of history," Macron said.

Macron will on Tuesday travel to Muenster in western Germany, where he will be presented with the Westphalian Peace Prize.

​​​(with newswires)

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