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Macron: Time to Bring Self-confidence Back to the French | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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President Macron and his wife Brigitte on the steps of the Élysée Palace after the handover ceremony. Photograph: Ian Langsdon/EPA

Paris – At around 10 AM, the new French President Emmanuel Macron, arrived at the 18th century Elysee palace in a Renault armored car and walked up the red carpet to the Elysee steps where outgoing President Francois Hollande waited to welcome him. On the right, advisors and staff of former president stood to welcome the new president, while on reporters stood on the left to record this day in the history of the French republic.

The two men shook hands and went up to the president’s office where they met for a private talk before the official ceremony.

About 300 guests, including ministers, politicians, officials, and Macron’s family attended Macron’s inauguration inside the Elysee’s reception hall Salon Murant in the building’s west wing.

Macron has officially become the eighth president of France’s Fifth Republic and the youngest in history.

The press had to wait over three hours because the presidential traditions include a 40 minutes meeting between the former president and the new one, during which the new president is informed of the “secrets” of the state and agreements as well as the nuclear codes.

At around 11 AM, Macron delivered his first speech as the president after president of the constitutional council, Laurent Fabius proclaimed his official authorities.

Traditionally, the president of constitutional council announces the official election results, but unlike the customs, Fabius delivered a speech and it sounded as if he was laying the way for a new sovereignty and new politics for France. Observers also hinted that Fabius had his own aspirations of becoming the president. Like Macron, Fabius was the youngest prime minister in the history of French republic. He was only 37 years old.

He cited François-René de Chateaubriand, one of the country’s intellectuals and conservatives of the end of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th, to describe Macron saying he was “man of his times”.

“Chateaubriand wrote a formula that fully makes sense: ‘To be a man of his country, one must be a man of his times,” Fabius said. He added that Macron was both, but then urged him to reach out to everyone, an important exhortation for the new president.

Fabius advised Macron to calm the anger, repair the wounds, alleviate the doubts, show the road forward and embody the hopes of France.

In his first speech as president, which lasted a little over 10 minutes, Macron said France had chosen “hope”. He returned to the basics of his presidential campaign without dwelling on details.

“The whole world has watched our presidential election,” the new president said, adding: “The responsibility with which they have entrusted me is an honor. The world and Europe have today, more than ever, a need for France. They want a France that is sure of its destiny. The world needs what French men and woman have always taught it, freedom, equality and fraternity.”

He said France was not in decline, but at the start of an extraordinary renaissance, adding that he would boost employment, protect companies and engage with French people who feel ignored.

“We will need a more efficient, more democratic and more political Europe, because it is the instrument of our power and of our sovereignty,” Macron said.

The young president is aware of the challenges he’ll face internally and externally to which he vowed to take full responsibility whenever the occasion requires whether the immigration crisis or fighting terrorism.

Concerning France, Macron said his presidency would be guided by two concerns: finding ways to help the French have confidence in themselves again and making France prosperous and strong.

The challenge of the next five years will be to avoid letting the country collapse, by spreading success, enlarging the field of opportunity, and ensuring, as Paris does so well, that everyone benefits from globalization and the openness of France.

After his speech, Macron paraded the French troops in the Elysees and then he chose to be driven by military jeep rather than civilian limousine to the Arc de Triomphe. Hundreds of French citizens and tourists stood on both sides of the avenue to see the president’s convoy amid tightened security measures.

He stood in the rain to light the flame in tribute to France’s war dead at the tomb of the unknown soldier.

Observers believe that the time Macron dedicated to salute the military officials in Elysees, then at the Arc de Triomphe and using a military vehicle reflects his will to inform the armed forces that he is determined and ready to hear their demands.

He also wanted to emphasize France’s defence strength at a time when the country is still under a state of emergency after a series of terrorist attacks, and currently has thousands of troops involved in military operations abroad.

Macron then added his own extra appointment by making a personal visit to a military hospital where he went to the bedside of soldiers wounded on operations in Mali and Afghanistan.

The new president concluded his day by visiting the municipality of Paris where he was received by the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo on the square in front of the Hôtel de Ville, city hall.

Macron still has to name a new prime minister.

On Monday, Macron will fly to Berlin to meet the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. It is traditional for French leaders to make Berlin their first European trip.