PARIS — Responding to President Trump’s attacks on his French counterpart, France’s government struck back Wednesday, accusing Trump of lacking “common decency” by spewing invective on the same day the country was commemorating the victims of a major 2015 terrorist attack.
Benjamin Griveaux, France’s government spokesman, offered the response a day after Trump unleashed a string of Twitter attacks on President Emmanuel Macron.
“Yesterday was November 13,” Griveaux said, according to the minutes of a meeting of France’s Council of Ministers — remarks that were widely reported in French media. “We were commemorating the murder of 130 of our people.”
The Nov. 13, 2015, attacks, perpetrated by a network of Islamic State-affiliated gunmen on a number of sites across the French capital, including the Bataclan concert hall, were the bloodiest on French soil since World War II.
“So I’ll reply in English: ‘Common decency’ would have been appropriate,” Griveaux said.
On Tuesday — two days after flying home from a two-day visit to France — Trump took to Twitter to post multiple blistering attacks on Macron, France’s performance in both world wars and France in general.
He was responding in part to an address Macron gave Sunday in Paris, where the French president used the 100th anniversary of the 1918 World War I armistice to condemn nationalism as the “exact opposite of patriotism.” The remarks were seen by many as a direct challenge to Trump, who has openly identified himself as a nationalist.
In his Tuesday tweets, Trump personally criticized Macron, who had previously sought to curry favor with Washington.
“The problem is that Emmanuel suffers from a very low Approval Rating in France, 26%, and an unemployment rate of almost 10%,” Trump wrote, attempting to explain Macron’s remarks. The French unemployment rate is actually closer to 9 percent.
This, for Trump, was the reason Macron defended multilateralism beneath the Arc de Triomphe in a solemn remembrance ceremony: “He was just trying to get onto another subject.”
“By the way, there is no country more Nationalist than France,” Trump noted, “very proud people-and rightfully so!........”
Macron addressed the tensions with Trump in a wide-ranging interview on French television Wednesday night, conducted aboard an aircraft carrier.
“I don’t want to respond to tweets,” he told a journalist from France’s TF1 network, in what was ultimately a response to a tweet.
The French president then underscored the historic alliance between the two countries but insisted that France and Europe should not be subservient to the United States in matters of defense and security.
Macron repeated his earlier remark — which had so angered Trump — on the need for Europe to take charge of its own security instead of relying exclusively on the United States. In another interview last week, Macron said he believed in the need for a “true European army.”
But because of a probable translation error in a number of English-language reports, Trump and his aides believed Macron was advocating a European army to defend the continent against the United States. “Very insulting,” Trump wrote on Twitter, as Air Force One arrived in Paris on Friday.
“Can I, as president, say to you: I want to place all your security in the hands of the United States?” Macron asked in Wednesday interview. “No.”
“The United States is our historic ally, but to be an ally is not to be a vassal,” he said. “We should not depend on them.”