Macron replies to the square: “France will not erase names from its history, nor will it shoot down statues”


PARIS – “We will not erase any name from our history, we will not tear down statues. We look with clarity to our memory, to our relationship with Africa with a duty of truth”. Emmanuel Macron responds to the French movement Black Lives Matter and immediately rejects what he calls “separatist” and “communitarian” pressures. “A noble battle must not be betrayed by a false or hateful revision of our past,” says the French leader in his live TV message. It is a clear reference to the demonstrators who denounced a “state racism” and a form of censorship on the colonial legacy of France in the streets. Many militants have asked to cancel some characters related to the history of slavery such as the minister Colbert, author of the Black Code, and whose statue is present at the Assemblée Nationale.

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Macron had not yet spoken since the rallies against racism and police violence on the wave of the American movement began. “We will not tolerate racism, anti-Semitism, discrimination”, said Macron promising “new and strong decisions for equal opportunities”. “Our struggle – continues the head of state – must continue and intensify in order to obtain diplomas and jobs that correspond to the merits and talents of each one, and to fight against the fact that name, address and skin color still reduce too much often the opportunities that everyone should have in our country “. Faced with the anger on the part of the police, opposed to the new measures announced by the government to limit accidents in the arrest of suspects, the French leader expressed “support and gratitude” to the agents, adding: “We will not build our future in disorder. Without republican order there is no freedom or security “.
Turn the page. Macron’s speech to the French begins with this expression, the fourth since the Covid emergency began in March. The president has decided to reinstate lessons at school without any limitations. From 22 June all schools will have to welcome pupils “in a compulsory way and according to the normal rules of presence”. Since 11 May, with the gradual reopening of schools, less than a fifth of pupils have actually returned to the classroom due to health regulations. The announcement is mostly symbolic since the school year ends on July 4th. But it meets many families who complain about the difficulty of reconciling childcare and return to work, and relieves any doubts about a return to normal since September. Macron has also lifted the latest health restrictions in the Paris region. A measure much awaited by cafés and restaurants in the capital that so far could not accommodate customers inside the premises.Although he remembers that “the virus has not disappeared”, Macron decrees a “first victory” in the health emergency and invites the French to “return to work, rediscover the pleasure of being together, the taste of freedom”. The leader claims the choice of lockdown as “a humanist choice” that has put “health ahead of the economy”. It talks about tens of thousands of lives saved, and recalls the ability of the healthcare system to increase ICU places, with transfers of patients between regions. “We can be proud of our country” – he says – even if the opinion of the French in the polls is severe towards him, less towards Prime Minister Édouard Philippe.

The speech also addressed the economic crisis, for which France has already paid out over 500 billion euros, paying the chormage partiel, the equivalent of layoffs, to 12 million workers, a level of social protection that is unmatched in the West. Macron has assured that taxes will not be raised to support the additional expenses related to the coronavirus crisis. “The only answer is to build a stronger sustainable economic model, work and produce more so as not to depend on others.” The government wants to open a concertation phase with unions and businesses to cushion the impact of the crisis as much as possible, while the GDP will drop between 11 and 14% and an increase of 800 thousand unemployed by the end of the year.

Macron promises an “ecological and supportive reconstruction”, attentive to the young, the precarious and the poorest. The details of the big recovery plan, he specifies, will arrive in July, when a government reshuffle could also be launched. The leader also insists a lot on the need to develop productive autonomy in strategic sectors, such as healthcare. “We must find our independence to live better and happier”. Two years after his mandate to the Elysée expires, the goal is “to open a new stage to regain control of our destiny in France and Europe”. And it is precisely on Europe that the leader underlines the greatest success, the Franco-German proposal that led to the Commission’s Recovery Fund. “We must go towards a stronger, more united and sovereign Europe than China, the United States, and world disorder”, is Macron’s wish.

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