Protesters interrupted French President Emmanuel Macron’s speech about Europe’s future. The protest was done by waving banners and shouting as he addressed a student-dominated audience at a theater in The Hague, Netherlands on Tuesday.
The first state visit to the Netherlands by a French president in 23 years has been clouded by a row over comments that Macron made about Taiwan, the US, and China. Macron had stated that Europe should avoid ‘becoming a vassal in the US-China conflict.’
Demonstrators stood in the upper tier of the theater, held up a banner that read “President of Violence and Hypocrisy” . They then shouted, “Where is French democracy? You have millions of protesters in the streets.”
Macron has faced violent protests at home over pension reforms. He is now confronting the biggest challenge of his second term. This is after pushing through his flagship pension overhaul. It includes raising the retirement age from 62 to 64.
After security guards removed them, Macron said people who try to undermine laws passed by elected governments “put democracy at risk”. He cited the 2021 US Capitol riots and a 2023 attack on the Brazilian Congress.
The pomp and ceremony of the visit later continued regardless. King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands hailed the 45-year-old French president at a state dinner in Amsterdam.
“Reform is not simple”
The monarch raised his glass to toast his guest after they had finished a meal of asparagus soup with grey shrimp. Then followed by beef tournedos in a red wine sauce, and a dessert made of traditional Dutch sweets. He remarked that reform was not a simple task.
“For us, for Europe and the whole world, it is vital that France is strong, prosperous and confident.”
Macron’s speech earlier made no mention of Taiwan, sticking instead to themes of Europe’s need to look after its own interests.
In addition , Macron stated that it was critical for countries to be more sovereign during this period of war and economic weaponization, particularly in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Ukraine war had “opened probably one of the most perilous times of our European Union”, he added.