PARIS | The Latest: WWI centennial: Macron backs European army idea

PARIS— The Latest on World War I armistice commemorations (all times local):

11:55 a.m.
French President Emmanuel Macron is pushing for a strong joint European military as he hosts international events marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

Macron is launching a peace forum Sunday to stress the importance of multilateral cooperation to prevent new world wars, but he also stressed the importance of investing in Europe’s military forces.
In a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, Macron said that “it’s unfair to have European security today being assured by the U.S.” He added “that’s why I believe we need more European capacities and more defense.”

Macron has pushed for a European intervention force but the idea meets resistance in some capitals, which want to keep military capabilities under national sovereignty.

He hailed a “superb operation” against Syria earlier this year — when U.S., French and British forces bombed targets believed to be part of President Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons program.


11:35 a.m.
With the words “Fake Peacemakers” written on their bare chests, three supporters of the Femen protest movement have demonstrated at the Paris site where world leaders will commemorate the 100th anniversary Sunday of the end of World War I.

Photos showed the three women holding placards spattered with fake blood and slogans, including ‘Welcome War Criminals,” at the protest early on Saturday at the Arc de Triomphe.

French news reports said police quickly took the protesters away.


11:05 a.m.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s office is objecting to U.S. President Donald Trump’s tweet that it’s “insulting” that Europe wants to build its own military.

An official in Macron’s office said that Trump lumped together two different comments by the French president. The two men are meeting in Paris on Saturday, and Macron’s office says this issue will be on the table.

Trump tweeted Friday night that Macron “has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the U.S., China and Russia. Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly!”
The French official, who was not authorized to be publicly named, said Macron “did not say that.”

Macron said in an interview earlier this week that Europe needs to protect itself against “China, Russia and even the United States” in terms of cyberspace. Later, Macron reiterated that Europe needs to build up its own military because it can no longer depend on the U.S. for defense.

–By Angela Charlton


10:50 a.m.
Serbia is holding large military drills to mark 100 years since the end of World War I in an apparent show of force amid rising tensions with Kosovo.

The live-ammunition maneuvers on Saturday, dubbed “The Century of Winners,” include 8,000 soldiers, 100 battle tanks and MiG-29 fighter jets supplied by Russia.

Tensions recently have increased in the region, with Serbia and Kosovo accusing each other of undermining efforts at reconciliation following a 1998-99 war which ended after NATO intervention. The former Serbian province declared independence in 2008 which Belgrade doesn’t recognize.

Serbia is often wrongly accused of starting World War I after a Serb nationalist assassinated the Austrian archduke in Sarajevo, Bosnia, in 1914. Serbia suffered the worst losses proportional to the size of its army during the war.


10:15 a.m.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has paid homage to veterans at a World War I centennial commemoration in a cemetery in northern France, thanking soldiers for their service as he stood amid row upon row of silent graves.

With medal-bedecked veterans in attendance Saturday morning, Trudeau spoke of the “history for which you bled and fought, a history built on your sacrifice.”

He said Canada owes its veterans “a tremendous debt of gratitude” and added: “From the very bottom of our hearts, thank you.”

Clutching a red chrysanthemum, Trudeau also walked among the white gravestones at the Canadian Cemetery No. 2, in Neuville-St.Vaast in northern France. It holds the remains of 820 casualties from the 1914-1918 war.


9:50 a.m.
A weekend of commemorations involving dozens of world leaders to mark 100 years since the end of World War I is underway, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kicking off the events in France and elsewhere with a visit to a cemetery.

Trudeau met veterans and laid a wreath Saturday at a Canadian cemetery in northern France containing the remains of 820 casualties from the 1914-1918 conflict, many unidentified and lying under white headstones marked simply: A soldier of the Great War.

More than 60 heads of state and government are converging on France for the commemorations that will crescendo Sunday with ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Paris on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, exactly a century after the armistice.

By Associated Press