Leaders warn against old demons at Paris Peace Forum
12 Nov 2018, 03:14
The Paris Peace Forum kicked off on Sunday with speeches from French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UN chief Antonio Guterres, who called for sustained efforts towards peace on the occasion marking the centenary of the Armistice.
The forum follows a get-together by dozens of government leaders under the Arch of Triumph in the morning, commemorating the 100th year of the end of the World War I.
Whether the image of the commemoration is a symbol of durable peace between nations, or a picture of a last moment of unity before the world goes down in new disorder, "it depends only on us," French President Emmanuel Macron said in a speech at the opening of the forum.
He said that the world's stability is threatened by nationalism, racism, antisemitism and extremism.
It's also challenged by economic, environmental and migrants-related factors, he noted.
Following Macron's speech, German Chancellor Angela Merkel made references to serious conflicts worldwide, saying if "we believe that we have to draw conclusions from and learn from history, that makes us speechless."
"We must not accept armed conflicts, wherever they are in the world, no matter how far away, no population, no nation, not a single person must be written off by us," she said.
Merkel criticized "national vaingloriousness and military arrogance" that led to the "senseless bloodshed" of two world wars, and said peace should not be taken for granted. Rather, "we have to work for it," she said.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said many elements today appear to resemble the beginning of the 20th Century and the 1930s, warning against "a polarization of political life and of society itself."
He championed the cause of United Nations in his speech, saying today it is home to the center that harmonizes efforts towards peace and sustainable development.
The Paris Peace Forum is organized around five themes: peace and security, environment, development, inclusive economy and new technologies, and will last for three days.
Over 120 projects to address global challenges will be presented at the forum, which Macron said aims at promoting concrete actions toward peace and should be repeated every year.