French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday postponed a long-planned state visit to Germany to deal with the worsening turmoil in France, in a clear sign of the gravity of the violent protests gripping the country.
The killing of a 17-year-old of North African descent by a police officer on Tuesday has thrown France into chaos, sparking violent demonstrations in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, where the teen was shot. The violence has spread to other big cities.
According to the latest estimates by France’s Interior Ministry, up to 1,300 rioters were arrested in the night between Friday and Saturday.
The Élysée confirmed that Macron and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke on the phone on Saturday, agreeing to postpone the high-level visit. “Given the internal situation, the president has indicated that he wishes to be able to stay in France for the next few days,” according to a statement.
“The two presidents therefore agreed to postpone the visit to Germany to a later date,” it added.
No new date for the visit seems to have been floated for the time being.
The state visit, which was scheduled for July 2-4, was meant to boost Franco-German relations and have the leaders discuss burning issues ranging from energy policy to China. It would also have marked the first time a French president paid a state visit to Germany since Jacques Chirac visited Berlin in 2000.
Escalating clashes between rioters and police had already forced Macron to accelerate his departure from the European Council meeting in Brussels on Friday.