The French president condemns the violence that broke out during protests against the increase of the retirement age from 62 to 64 years.
Britain’s King Charles has postponed a state visit to France after social unrest over President Emmanuel Macron’s new pension law erupted into the country’s worst street violence in years.
Speaking at a press conference after a summit in Brussels on Friday, Macron said it would not have reflected “common sense and friendship” to “propose a visit in the middle of the demonstrations”.
He also condemned the violence that erupted on Thursday during protests against raising the retirement age from 62 to 64, saying he would not budge.
“We will not give in to violence, I condemn violence with the utmost force,” Macron said.
Macron is under pressure to find a way out of a crisis that has seen France’s worst mob violence in years over unpopular pension reforms he pushed through parliament without a vote.
The now-postponed visit by the British monarch and his wife was meant to be Charles III’s first major foray onto the international scene as king and a prestigious celebration of historic relations between the Channel before his official crowning in May.
The 74-year-old monarch and queen consort Camilla, who was due to be in Paris on Sunday, “really looks forward to the opportunity to visit France as soon as dates can be found,” said Buckingham Palace.
Macron said Charles’s visit will likely be moved to early summer.
The British government said Macron had asked for an extension.
The postponement prevents the royal couple from getting involved in demonstrations and even protocol errors, after striking workers threatened to withhold the red carpet for the tour.
Also on the French side, Macron would have been aware of the public relations implications of eating and drinking a high-profile foreign dignitary as tear gas and smoke suffocate French cities.
French citizens angry at Macron’s pension reforms staged scattered protests on Friday.
The protests and labor strikes against Macron’s decision had already promised to affect the visit, with workers refusing to roll out the red carpet for the king’s arrival.
More than 450 protesters were arrested in Paris and beyond as some 300 demonstrations drew more than a million people across the country on Thursday. Polls show that most French people are against having to work another two years before retirement, which Macron says is necessary to keep the pension system afloat.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said 441 police officers and gendarmes were injured as violence marred some marches and anger mounted. He added that 1,000 rubbish bins have been set on fire in the French capital; overflowing rubbish bins have become a symbol of the protests during a weeks-long strike by sanitation workers.