Macron pledges to unite France after being inaugurated as president

Francois Hollande hands over French presidency to Emmanuel Macron in a ceremony at the Elysee Palace. Macron vows to "relaunch" the EU.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

In his first speech, Macron said the French people had chosen "hope" and shown a willingness to change.

Emmanuel Macron was inaugurated as France's youngest ever president on Sunday, saying the country had chosen "hope" and promising to relaunch the flagging European Union.

Macron, a 39-year-old centrist, took the reins of power from Francois Hollande a week after he won a resounding victory over far-right leader Marine Le Pen in a tumultuous election.

After a warm welcome from Hollande at the Elysee Palace amid tight security, the two men held a closed-doors meeting during which Macron was handed the codes to launch France's nuclear arsenal

TRT World's Andrew Hopkins reports.

In a moment heavy with symbolism, 64-year-old Hollande, who launched Macron's political career by appointing him first as an advisor and then economy minister, was then driven away from the palace to applause from his staff and the new president.

The former investment banker who had never even contested an election before was then proclaimed president by Laurent Fabius, president of the Constitutional Council.

"In order to be the man of one's country, one must be the man of your time," Fabius told him.

"You are now the man of your time... and by the sovereign choice of the people, you are now, above all ... the man of our country."

In his first speech, Macron said the French people had chosen "hope" and shown a willingness to change in the election.

The new president faces a host of daunting challenges including tackling stubbornly high unemployment, fighting violence and uniting a deeply divided country.

Socialist Hollande's five years in power were plagued by a sluggish economy and bloody terror attacks that killed more than 230 people and he leaves office after a single term.

"The division and fractures in our society must be overcome. I know that the French expect much from me. Nothing will make me stop defending the higher interests of France and for working to reconcile the French," Macron declared.

A convinced European integrationist unlike Le Pen and other candidates, Macron went on: "The world and Europe need more than ever France, and a strong France, which speaks out loudly for freedom and solidarity."

He promised that the EU, hit by the imminent departure of Britain, would be "rejuvenated and relaunched" during his time in office.

"The world and Europe need France now more than ever and they need a strong France with a sense of its own destiny."

To underline his European ambitions, Macron will visit German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Monday on his first foreign trip.

TRT World's Zeina Awad brings more on the challenges Macron will tackle in the upcoming months.

First stop, Berlin

Macron's first week will be busy. On Monday, he is expected to reveal the closely-guarded name of his prime minister before flying to Berlin.

It is virtually a rite of passage for French leaders to make their first European trip to meet the leader of the other half of the so-called "motor" of the EU.

Pro-EU Macron wants to push for closer cooperation to help the bloc overcome the imminent departure of Britain, another of its most powerful members.

Source: 
TRTWorld and agencies