WWI Remembrance Day: France's Macron Warns Against Divisive Forces and ‘Nationalism’
France's President Emmanuel Macron speaks at the centenary celebration to mark the occasion of the end of WWI (Photo: Twitter)

At a time when right-wing political movements are growing across the world, and world leaders are proclaiming their fealty to the political ideology of nationalism, November 11th offered a sobering reminder.

Over 60 heads of state and government took part in a solemn ceremony to commemorate the armistice that ended World War One. World War One was one of the deadliest conflicts in the history of human race, in which over 16 million people died. The total number of both civilian and military casualties is estimated at around 37 million people.

Then undivided India sent over 1.3 million troops to aid British efforts and over 74,000 of them perished in the war.

French President Emmanuel Macron was joined by US President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Russian president Vladimir Putin and German chancellor Angela Merkel.

The leaders participated in the ceremony by laying a wreath and paying their respects at the 'Tomb of the Unknown Soldier' to mark 100 years of the end of the Great War.

But, the occasion provided French President Macron to drive home a very important point. Speaking after the ceremony, Macron urged the global leaders present around him to build hopes rather than "playing our fears against each other."

"On 11 November 1918, at 11 o'clock in the morning, 100 years ago, day to day, hour for hour, in Paris, as in all of France, the bugles sounded and the bells rang. It was the end of four long and terrible years of deadly fighting," Macron was quoted by Sputnik as saying.

Speaking at the Arc de Triomphe, Macron said that "the traces of that war have not faded from French soil," or from "our memories around the world.” He also touched upon universal values that underlined the importance of countries to work together and eliminate differences.

Macron warned against the dangers of nationalism and said the "ancient demons" that caused World War One and millions of deaths are growing stronger. The French President further said that France's vision as a generous nation that is a "bearer of universal values" is the "very opposite of nationalism", which, he claimed, only looks after itself. "Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism," he added.

Macron added, "The lessons of the Great War can not be that of resentment between peoples, nor should the past be forgotten. It is our deeply rooted obligation to think of the future, and to consider what is essential."

Macron’s message of universalism was aimed at leaders like Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, who under the guise of the principle of ‘nationalism’ to justify their actions, have increased discord and the potential for conflict in the world. Trump has in recent weeks, claimed multiple times that he is a ‘nationalist’ and his speech at the 2018 United Nations General Assembly focused on his ‘America first’ approach.

The First World War began in 1914 and went on for four years. It was known as the "war to end all wars', an also called the Great War. The war finally ended on November 11, 1918, after an armistice agreement was signed between Germany and the Allies. (With ANI inputs)