The forum, which France is looking to turn into an annual multilateral peace conference, is inaugurated as the world marks 100 years since of end of World War I. The 2018 Armistice Day celebrations will draw a record number of the world leaders, invited by the French president.
Official delegations from more than 60 countries are expected to travel to Paris to take part in the commemoration of the armistice, signed on November 11, 1918, between Germany and allies. The two-day celebrations started on Saturday when heads of state met over a dinner, held by Macron at Musee d’Orsay, followed by a concert in Paris Philharmonie.
Armistice Day celebrations will kick off at 11 a.m. (10:00 GMT) Sunday, with Macron delivering an opening speech at Arc de Triumph. This year the military parade on the Champs Elysee would be even more festive, with dozens of heads of state and government, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart leader Donald Trump, expected to attend.
Macron floated the idea of a peace forum – a new global platform for summit talks on the challenges the world is facing – in January 2018, drawing attention of experts and journalists worldwide.
The leaders, including President Vladimir Putin, will then attend a plenary meeting on the global governance.
The annual Paris Peace Forum, supported by the French Foreign Ministry, is aimed at promoting governance solutions in such key areas as peace and security, environment, modern technologies, development and inclusive economy. The panels vary from sustainable peace and cybersecurity, to religious radicalism, blockchains, and artificial Intelligence.
Paris Peace Forum is a part of the so-called Paris Digital Week, combining three parallel events.
At the November 12 GovTech summit, experts and business executives will join high-profile politicians to explore how new technologies can improve public services and democratic practices, covering topics from transport to healthcare, security to international development, e-government to citizen engagement.
The Internet of Trust Forum, organized annually by the United Nations, is a major global internet event, which focuses on inclusive internet governance and which this year will also be held in the French capital.
Important Platform for Bilateral Meetings
The forum will become a major platform for high-level bilateral meetings. The French president’s agenda is packed, starting with a tete-a-tete with Donald Trump on Saturday, followed by a meeting with Angela Merkel, with who they will attend a ceremony near Compiegne in northern France, where the armistice ending the world war was signed. Macron will also meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and UN chief Antonio Guterres.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic confirmed he was ready to meet with Hashim Thaci, the leader of breakaway Kosovo, on the sidelines of the forum.
A long-anticipated bilateral between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump had to be canceled at the request of the French leadership, which believes it could overshadow the main events. Russian president’s press office said Putin and Trump would talk on-the-go during a working lunch in the Elysee Palace on Sunday, after which they would announce their plans for a full-scale meeting on the sidelines of the Argentina G20 Summit.
Protests and Controversy
Earlier in November, Macron spent a week touring the country's WWI battlefields, including Verdun, the scene of the longest battle which left at least 700,000 dead on both sides.
But earlier this week the French president stirred anger over his desire to worship, among other seven prominent WWI marshals, Philippe Petin, a war hero and the winner of Verdun who collaborated with the Nazis in WWII. Macron said he believed it was "totally legitimate to pay tribute to marshals who led our army to victory" and claimed that Petain was "a great soldier in WWI", drawing criticism of the Jewish community, NGOs and several politicians.
President Trump, criticized notably by Macron for his protectionist policies and withdrawal from major international pacts, will reportedly skip the opening ceremony of forum. An anti-Trump protest will also take place at 2 p.m. (13:00 GMT) Sunday at the Republic Square in Paris.
Another protest was organized on November 7 by Handicap International NGO against the bombing of civilian populations. The group mobilized French parliamentarians, who rallied in front of the National Assembly, carrying the portraits of murdered civilians. They called for diplomatic effort by France and the United States to stop bombings in populated areas.
The Paris Police Prefecture estimated that around 10,000 officers be deployed to the main venues over the weekend to maintain order.