President Emmanuel Macron of France has called off an official visit to Germany as widespread rioting and unrest across the country was sparked by the killing of 17-year-old French-Algerian boy Nahel Merzouk by police in Nanterre on Tuesday.
Rioting and looting raged in cities around France for a fourth night yesterday despite a huge police deployment and 1,311 arrests.
The trip cancellation was announced by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeir’s office on Saturday after Macron phoned to request a postponement of his visit, what would have been a historic first state visit by a French president to Germany in 23 years.
Civil unrest in France has hurt impacted negatively on Macron’s diplomatic moves in recent months. King Charles III of England cancelled his first foreign visit as monarch, initially planned for France, because of protests over Macron’s pension reform plans.
Macron, who was heavily criticised across France after he was filmed dancing at an Elton John concert in the wake of the current crisis has decided to stay at home to deal with the crisis as clashes between police and protestors continue.
‘A state visit is a visit of friendship, purely ceremonial, there will be a better time to do so,’ a Macron aide told Reuters, asking not to be named.
‘The French would not have understood if he had gone to Germany. These days in Paris are important.’
The trip, supposed to officially start on Monday, would have seen Macron travel to Berlin and two other German cities.