French presidential contender asks Macron to take down EU flag
Marine Le Pen, a right-wing contender in the 2022 French presidential election, said the government has attacked the country’s identity and broken the law by hanging an EU flag on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
“To adorn the Arc de Triomphe with the sole colors of the European Union, without the presence of a national flag, is a real attack on our nation’s identity, because this monument honors our military glories and houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” Le Pen, the former leader of the National Rally party, said in a statement on Saturday.
The conservative politician accused her rival, President Emmanuel Macron, of “betraying the duties of his office and displaying arrogant contempt for our history for the sake of personal ambition.”
Le Pen promised to appeal to the French Council of State, stating that the decision to replace the national flag with that of the EU violates several articles of the French Constitution.
In a tweet on New Year’s Eve, Le Pen asked Macron to return the French tricolor to the Arc de Triomphe.
The blue EU flag with 12 golden stars was placed on the monument to mark the start of France’s six-month presidency at the Council of the European Union, one of the bloc’s decision-making bodies. Government buildings and cultural landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, and the Louvre, were illuminated in blue on the occasion. France last took over the EU presidency in 2008.
Government sources told BFM TV on Saturday that the French flag is not displayed permanently on the Arc de Triomphe, and that the EU flag will be removed in a few days.
Secretary of State for European Affairs Clement Beaune claimed that “the French flag has not been replaced.”
“The election campaign is not a free pass for petty lies and controversies,” he tweeted.
The French are set to vote in the presidential election in April, followed by the parliamentary election in June.