France trumpets shared European defense on Bastille Day

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced the creation of a new national military space force command that would eventually be part of his country's air force

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced the creation of a new national military space force command that would eventually be part of his country's air force

President Emmanuel Macron spoke of the importance of common defense and security on Sunday as he marked Bastille Day celebrations in France.

The fireworks start at 11PM CEST.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday announced he was creating a national military space force command that would eventually be part of his country's air force.

Bastille Day commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789, one of the key events of the French Revolution.

Last year Macron had spoken of the need for a strategy for space defence and this was the result, he said.

But the biggest crowd-pleaser was former jet-skiing champion Franky Zapata, who rocketed through the air on a flyboard device he invented.

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

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Macron, who pushed the idea of the European Intervention Initiative (E2I) to undertake missions outside of existing structures like North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, says European defense cooperation is crucial.

The Pentagon has laid out plans concerning space force creation last August, including establishing a Space Development Agency "charged with rapidly developing and fielding next-generation capabilities", a Space Operations Force comprised of career space experts, and a United Combatant Command-level Space Command, which will have the task to "improve and evolve space war fighting".

Addressing military personnel a day before the Bastille Day parade, Macron said the new military doctrine setting up a space command would strengthen protection of French satellites.

Merkel told reporters after the event that the parade was a "great gesture for a European defence policy" and Germany was "honoured" to have taken part.

A dozen European leaders announced their presence at the parade, which will include nearly 4,300 troops, 196 vehicles, more than 230 horses, almost 70 planes and 40 helicopters, some of them representing armies from the old continent.

Also present will be members of the 5,000-strong Franco-German Brigade (BFA), which was created in 1989 as a symbol of postwar unity between France and Germany, and celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

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