Demonstrators welcome Macron with "eggs and pots" and the police fire tear gas

Angry demonstrators gathered Thursday in a French village during the visit of President Emmanuel Macron to express their protest against pension reform. The police fired tear gas at the demonstrators.

French police fired tear gas Thursday in a village in southern France where President Emmanuel Macron visited a school, a day after he was booed in protest at a pension reform law.

After speaking at length with teachers, parents and students at a college in Ganges, the French president announced an "unconditional increase" in the net salary from 100 to 230 euros per month for teachers "at all professional levels" and "as of the start of the academic year" in September.

He added that the increase would be raised "to 500 euros per month" for those who accept new assignments on a voluntary basis, without going into details.

Upon his arrival, Macron did not meet the hundreds of angry demonstrators who had gathered in the city center and were kept at a distance from the school by the security forces.

Whistles and smoke bombs were used, but pots were not allowed. The gendarmerie confiscated some of them, while a decree issued by the governorate banned "mobile devices that emit sounds."

Despite the issuance of the Pension Reform Law (which raises the legal retirement age from 62 to 64 years) after the Constitutional Council approved it, the protest movement continues. During the major marches under the flag of the trade unions, more spontaneous, almost daily protests take place, especially at the sounds of banging pots.

On Thursday, the demonstrators chanted, "We are here" and "Macron, resign," and some threw eggs and potatoes at the police.

And on Wednesday, during his visit to the Alsace region (east), Macron was booed and attacked during his first public meeting in weeks.

Upon his arrival, Macron said, during an exchange of conversations with the deputy of the radical left for this constituency, Sebastian Romm, that "eggs and pots are for cooking in my house only," and the latter responded by saying, "The resistance is a little far away, we do not hear it, but it is there."

"I am always ready to meet individuals if they are ready for dialogue," the French president added.

On the occasion of this visit, the General Trade Union CGT, the second largest in France, claimed responsibility for cutting off electricity at Montpellier airport before Macron's arrival and at the school he visited.

The mobilization against pension reform is distinguished from its predecessors by its continuity, as confirmed by political expert Pascal Perino, who indicated that "bad mood" is still prevalent in opinion polls.

Smoke bombs
In Rennes (west), about 5,000 people demonstrated, according to the unions and 1,200 according to the police, on Thursday, before mobilizing on the first of May at the unions' call.

At the same time, 300 railway workers and strikers from other sectors briefly occupied the lobby of the Euronext tower, owner of the Paris Stock Exchange and six other European stock exchanges, in the La Defense district near Paris, firing smoke bombs.

And on Wednesday, Macron stressed that “anger” over reforming the pension system “will not prevent me from continuing to move.”

It is the opinion of his camp, which strongly encourages him to return to communication with the French after three months of social and political crisis.

The deputy in his camp, Carl Olive, praised the "courage" of the president, who is facing "the reality on the ground."

Far-right deputy Jean-Philippe Tanguy replied, "It is not courageous to meet voters. The brave is the one who makes the right decisions for the country."

And Macron is not the only person who is greeted with anger, as many ministers have received the same reception by reception committees in recent days or have had to cancel field visits.

A new shipment of "Leopard 2" to Kiev and Stoltenberg : Ukraine's future in NATO

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that ensuring Ukraine's victory in the war against Russia is a priority for the alliance. While Western countries announced that Kiev would be supplied with a new shipment of "Leopard 2" tanks.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed, during a visit to Kiev on Thursday, that the alliance's priority is to ensure that Ukraine "overcomes" the war against Russia, indicating that its plan to join NATO will be discussed at a summit in July.

"Ukraine's future is within the Euro-Atlantic family. Ukraine's future is in NATO. All allies agree on that," Stoltenberg told a news conference in Kiev.

He pointed out that the "issue of membership" would be a "priority on the agenda" of the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius this summer.

Meanwhile, Denmark and the Netherlands intend to supply Ukraine with 14 Leopard 2 tanks.

The Danish Ministry of Defense stated, in a joint statement published on its website, on Thursday, that Copenhagen and Amsterdam will jointly provide 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

"Today the Netherlands and Denmark announce their intention to provide Ukraine with 14 Leopard 2 tanks," the statement read.

The statement indicated that the tanks will be delivered to Ukraine in early 2024.

The German-made Leopard 2 tanks are distinguished by giving them comprehensive protection for their crew from threats such as improvised explosive devices, mines or anti-tank fire.

On February 24, 2022, Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine, which was followed by international rejection and economic sanctions on Moscow, which stipulates that ending its operations requires Kiev's abandonment of plans to join military entities, which the latter considers an "interference" in its sovereignty.
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