France trumpets shared European defense on Bastille Day

PARIS (WPVI) -- France's annual Bastille Day parade became a showcase for defense cooperation in Europe as leaders of other European nations joined President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday to review their military contingents marching on the Champs-Elysees avenue.

Flags of the 10 countries participating in the European Intervention Initiative, a French-led joint military pact created at Macron's initiative, led off the military parade in Paris that featured over 4,000 military personnel, 69 military airplanes and 39 helicopters.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the invitation to celebrate France's national holiday "is a symbol for an intensified European cooperation" and "a big gesture toward European defense policy."

At France's 2017 Bastille Day events, guest of honor U.S. President Donald Trump was so impressed by the spectacle he ordered a military parade in Washington for America's July 4 celebrations.

But the biggest crowd-pleaser this year was the man who rocketed through the air on a flying hoverboard. The inventor, former jet-skiing champion Franky Zapata, held a rifle as he zoomed over the parade route.

Tensions in the street remained high following months of demonstrations by the anti-Macron yellow vest protesters who want more help for French workers.

Several hundred yellow vest activists - without their trademark fluorescent emergency jackets - gathered on the margins of the parade and were involved in standoffs with police.

Television images showed police grabbing one of the movement's leaders, Eric Drouet, as he stood peacefully on the sidelines and escorting him away.

Macron hosted a lunch at the presidential Elysee Palace with the other European leaders.
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