Tuesday 28 January 2020
News ID: 68166
Publish Date: 15 July 2019 - 21:52

PARIS (Dispatches) -- French President Emmanuel Macron showcased European military cooperation in a Bastille Day parade but the aftermath of the glittering event was tarnished by violent clashes between police and protesters.
Key EU leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, joined Macron in Paris to watch the annual parade that included representatives of nine other European armies in a show of unity.
But the celebrations of France's national day were followed by clashes that erupted between anti-government protesters and police that recalled violence seen at the peak of the "yellow vest" protest movement earlier this year.
Police fired tear gas to clear protesters from the iconic Champs-Elysees, as spectators who had witnessed the parade and startled foreign tourists took cover.
The Paris police said 180 people had been detained over the violence, and 25 held for questioning were later released with 13 still in custody late Sunday.
Protesters tore down security barriers, set fire to rubbish bins and portable toilets, and chanted anti-government slogans like "Macron resign!" before calm was restored.
Standing in an open-top command car alongside France's chief of staff General Francois Lecointre, Macron was met with jeers and whistles from supporters of the "yellow vest" movement.
Three prominent movement members, Jerome Rodrigues, Maxime Nicolle and Eric Drouet, were detained for several hours but later released, sources told AFP.
Closer European military cooperation has been one of Macron's key foreign policy aims and the president shows no sign of wavering despite growing political turbulence in Germany and Britain's looming exit from the European Union.
At the 2017 parade, Macron's guest of honor was the newly inaugurated President Donald Trump as the young French leader sought to form a bond with his U.S. counterpart.
But since then ties between Trump and Macron have soured over the U.S. pullouts from the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal, as well as France's new law for a tax on digital giants, most of them U.S. companies.
Macron, who pushed the idea of the European Intervention Initiative (EI2) to undertake missions outside of existing structures like NATO, insisted on the importance of European military cooperation.
"Never, since the end of World War II has Europe been so important," Macron, who after coming to power in 2017 controversially dispensed with the president's traditional July 14 television interview, said in a written statement.
In a sign of France's ambition to be a leading modern military power under Macron, the president Saturday announced the creation of a national space force command that will eventually be part of the air force.
Among the foreign airpower taking part in flybys were two British Chinook helicopters, a symbol of British-French military cooperation even as Brexit looms.
Britain has deployed three of the aircraft and 100 personnel for France's operation in the African Sahel region.
As the military drew to a close, yellow vest protesters clashed with police. Some protesters said they were surrounded by police in a street for hours, before being forced to board a bus and sent to an unknown destination.
One woman, who identified herself to Euronews as Maryon, filmed the location, which looked like an abandoned warehouse.
Upon arrival in the warehouse, she said, protesters slowly went through mandatory ID checks and waited around two hours before being released.
The interior ministry said Monday a total of 282 people were arrested in France after unrest following the Algerian football team's qualification for the final of the Africa Cup of Nations.
Riotous celebrations erupted around the country after Algeria beat Nigeria 2-1 in the semifinal.
Unruly scenes erupted in Paris, Marseille and Lyon. Fifty people were arrested in the French capital and there were incidents between football fans and police on the Champs-Elysees avenue.
Dozens of cars were torched overnight in the eastern city of Lyon.
Paris and Marseille are home to large minority communities of Algerian origin. Football celebrations, with supporters brandishing large national flags, have on occasion been a source of tensions.

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