Emmanuel Macron has angrily confronted critics of final week’s Syria air strikes, claiming France, the UK and the US “saved the honour of the worldwide neighborhood”.
Throughout a three-hour debate on the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the French President was challenged by MEPs against the bombing raids on chemical weapons crops.
Responding passionately, he insisted France, the UK and the US had not declared warfare on Bashar al Assad, however stated Syria couldn’t be rebuilt after its civil warfare “if we flip our backs”.
When he entered the Parliament’s chamber firstly of the talk, Sinn Fein MEPs led a protest in opposition to the airstrikes, shouting and displaying placards declaring “Cease the warfare in Syria”, “Get up for worldwide regulation” and “Palms off Syria”.
After the President’s opening speech, outlining formidable proposals to make the EU extra democratic, senior MEP Man Verhofstadt strongly backed the army motion, claiming a rustic that used chemical weapons was a “genocidal and illegitimate regime”.
However after quite a few MEPs, together with Sinn Fein’s Martina McGuinness, attacked the raids, the President hit again, saying: “This intervention by France, the UK and US has nothing to do with Iraq, nothing to do with Libya.”
He stated international locations that believed within the power of regulation and what was proper couldn’t merely “collapse to the cynicism” of those who didn’t.
He spoke of “all those that are shocked every time by photographs now we have seen of youngsters and ladies who died of a chemical assault”.
And he challenged his critics: “Can we sit again? Can we defend human rights by saying rights are for us, rules are for us and realities are for others?”
He stated France, the UK and the US had intervened in a “respectable, multilateral framework” and the air strikes had particularly focused three chemical weapons amenities “with none human life loss”.
In his set-piece speech to MEPs earlier than the clashes in Syria, President Macron spoke bleakly about divisions within the EU and unveiled a sequence of proposals for reform.
“There appears to be a kind of European civil warfare the place egocentric pursuits typically seem extra vital than what unites Europe,” he stated.
He urged the European Parliament to again his requires extra democracy within the EU, together with direct elections for the European Fee President and different Brussels posts.
And recalling how the EU started after the Second World Struggle, he stated: “I do not wish to belong to a technology of sleepwalkers that has forgotten its personal previous.”
Instantly after the French President’s speech, present Fee President Jean-Claude Juncker rose to his toes and stated: “Sure, sure, we agree! I absolutely help what the President has simply stated.”
And after the lengthy and at instances heated debate within the Parliament chamber, the President had lunch with quite a few senior MEPs, together with the previous UKIP chief Nigel Farage.
Talking forward of the President’s look earlier than MEPs, Mr Farage quipped: “I plan on ruining his lunch!”