- Title: FRANCE: International guests attend France's Bastille Day military parade
- Date: 14th July 2008
- Summary: MILITARY BAND PLAYING "LA MARSEILLAISE" SARKOZY LISTENING TO BAND PLAYING FOREIGN DIGNITARIES STANDING FEMALE FOREIGN DIGNITARIES STANDING DIGNITARIES STANDING
- Embargoed: 29th July 2008 13:00
- Location: France
- Country: France
- Topics: International Relations,Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA753YKY3AVPGOWWCPCS5AWC2V4
- Story Text: International leaders watch traditional military parade to mark France's Bastille Day celebrations in Paris a day after the launch of the Mediterranean Union.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday (July 14) rode down Paris's Champs Elysee in a military jeep flanked by soldiers on horse-back in full dress uniform towards a review stand where many of the world leaders he had invited for a Mediterranean Union summit the previous day were gathered for a military parade to mark France's annual Bastille Day holiday.
Fighter jets trailing red, white and blue smoke flew low over the Arc de Triomphe and down the Champs Elysees as a military band played the French national anthem - "La Marseillaise" as part of the annual celebrations.
Sarkozy's office said 35 foreign national leaders attended Monday's parade, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The parade was held at a time of tense relations between the French army and Sarkozy, its commander-in-chief. Sarkozy's plans to modernise the French army, at the cost of thousands of jobs, has proved unpopular in the ranks. His criticism of the army and his decision to let his Chief of Staff resign in response to an incident during a military display in Carcassonne where a soldier fired live rounds instead of blanks wounding 17 people in the crowd also proved very unpopular in the army.
Leaders of 43 countries from the European Union and the Mediterranean region met in Paris on Sunday for a first summit of the Union for the Mediterranean, an initiative launched by Sarkozy.
The project is aimed at breathing new life into the existing Euro-Mediterranean partnership, known as the Barcelona process, and will create a more equal dialogue between the wealthy EU and the poorer states that line the Mediterranean.
The annual Bastille Day celebrations in France on July 14 mark the day in 1789 when the Bastille, the state prison in Paris, was stormed by the citizens of Paris and burned to the ground at the start of the French Revolution.
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