Macron will meet UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for bilateral talks in Downing Street, as well as Prince Charles at the Clarence House. The French president is here to commemorate WW2 alliance … writes Hitesh Tikoo for Asian Lite, the leading Asian newspaper from London
On his first visit abroad since the coronavirus pandemic, French President Emmanuel Macron is scheduled to arrive in London on Thursday for talks during a trip to commemorate WWII alliance.
Macron will meet UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for bilateral talks in Downing Street, as well as Prince Charles at the Clarence House.
The primary objective of the trip is to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the late French President General Charles de Gaulle’s broadcast announcing an alliance with war-time British leader, Winston Churchill and the launching of the French resistance against Nazi Germany.
Johnson will announce Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for four veterans of the French resistance, recognising their role in defending the UK and France from Nazi Germany.
Macron is also expected to ask the UK to review its decision of imposing a 14-day quarantine period on visitors arriving in the country from abroad.
Since June 15, France has been operating what is described as a “voluntary quarantine” on visitors coming from Britain.
With the UK reporting 42,238 COVID-19 deaths, the current highest in Europe, and France registering 29,578 fatalities, both Johnson and Macron have seen their poll ratings go down over their handling of the health crisis.
French officials stated that Macron will not raise the issue of Brexit talks since it must be handled at an European Commission and not bilateral level.
The two leaders are expected to talk about the Turkish military intervention in Libya.
France vehemently opposes Turkey’s intervention and considers it a serious security threat across North Africa and the coherence of the NATO.
Macron’s UK visit clashes with the ongoing anti-racism protests in London, which last week saw the statue of Winston Churchill vandalised by protestors with the word “racist” scribbled on the monument.
However, during Macron’s visit, the hoardings protecting the statue in Parliament Square will be taken down.
For the UK’s role in housing leaders of the French resistance, and helping to direct joint resistance operations inside France with the British Special Operations Executive, Macron will give the Legion of Honour to the City of London, the highest French order of merit for military and civil merits.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Johnson said: “Eighty years ago, General Charles de Gaulle, the leader of the French resistance, arrived in London knowing that the values of freedom, tolerance and democracy that Britain and France shared were under threat.
“He pledged that we would stand together to defend those values and protect our citizens from those bent on destroying us. The struggles we face today are different to those we confronted together 80 years ago. But I have no doubt that – working side by side – the UK and France will continue to rise to every new challenge and seize every opportunity that lies ahead.”
Two statues of General Charles de Gaulle were vandalised in France during the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests.
One statue was daubed with the word “slaver” and defaced with orange paint.
After Johnson and Macron’s meeting, the two leaders are expected to visit the house in which De Gaulle stayed, as well as watch a fly past by the RAF and the French Air Force.
Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, are due to travel from their home in Birkhall, Scotland, to London for the event.