France hosts world leaders to address global challenges

France hosts world leaders to address global challenges

Photo: AP French President Emmanuel Macron (C), OECD secretary general Angel Gurria (L)and other UN officers hold a placard as part of a move to promote gender equality at the Paris Peace Forum.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday welcomed more than 30 heads of state and government at the second annual Paris Peace Forum aimed at finding solutions to global challenges ranging from climate change and terrorism to migration and cyber security. Making an impassioned plea for multilateralism in his opening address at the Paris Peace Forum, Macron called on all delegates to come together to fight climate change, economic inequalities, terrorism, disinformation and cybercrime.

"We are experiencing an unprecedented crisis in our international system," said Macron, echoing a theme he highlighted last week when the French president warned a lack of coordination between Europe and US unilateral action in Syria meant the NATO military alliance was undergoing a “brain death”.

Speaking to delegates a day after Armistice Day, commemorating the armistice signed between the Allies and Germany for the cessation of hostilities in World War I, Macron noted that the lessons of history should not be overlooked.

"Europe is the place where the price of non-cooperation is best known. We tried that option in the past: it leads to war. Nationalism is war”, Macron said, adding that the continent could be "the trusted third party between the US and China".

Among those present were President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Felix Tshisekedi, the incoming president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, leaders of 10 international organizations, hundreds of activists, entrepreneurs and others. The US did not send a government official to the forum.

The next European Commission president said she wants to spend almost a third more on foreign policy goals over the next half decade to better establish the EU as a global player. Ursula von der Leyen said that the extra money is needed to develop a stronger strategic culture of the bloc, which is often criticized as high on ideals but low on effective impact.

“There is need for stable and responsible leadership. We all have to contribute,” she added.

Her demand for more funds for such foreign policy goals comes at a time when EU member states are seeking to contain their budgetary contributions to the EU, especially with the departure of the UK, expected over the coming months.

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