Macron hits back at Trump criticism: 'To be an ally is not to be a vassal'

French President Emmanuel Macron speaking (R) during a televised interview aboard the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier - AFP
French President Emmanuel Macron speaking (R) during a televised interview aboard the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier - AFP

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, on Wednesday hit back at Donald Trump's fierce Twitter attack on his call for a "real European army" by saying: "To be an ally is not to be a vassal".

But he denied there was any tension between France and America.

"At every moment in our history, we have been allies," the 40-year old leader said in an interview from France's nuclear aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle.

"Between allies, we owe each other respect and I don't want to hear the rest.”

No sooner had the US president touched down after a weekend in Paris attending centenary commemorations of the Armistice, he issued a flurry of spectacularly undiplomatic missives on Twitter.

In them, he mocked Mr Macron’s low approval ratings and threatened a trade war with France over wine tariffs. He also laid into his defence policy.

“Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia,” tweeted Mr Trump, just back from Paris where world leaders had convened to commemorate the end of the World War One.

“But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two - How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!”

From the Charles de Gaulle, Mr Macron said : “I believe in our sovereignty and in European sovereignty. I want us to be autonomous, in the fields of surveillance, cyber attacks, and all aspects of our army. And to do this, we cannot depend on (others), including the United States."

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, on Tuesday backed his defence plans.

Earlier, French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux had accused the US president of lacking “common decency” by issuing the Tweets on the third anniversary of the Paris terror attacks in which 130 died.

Even some of Mr Macron’s domestic political rivals were appalled. Olivier Faure, head of the French Socialist Party, said that while he opposed Mr Macron’s policies, he sympathised with the president for having to endure Mr Trump whose “verbal diarrhoea is becoming unbearable”.

Mr Trump and Mr Macron met at Armistice commemorations  - Credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Mr Trump and Mr Macron met at Armistice commemorations Credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The US president’s call to “make France great again” also came in for mockery from Benjamin Mendy, the Manchester City defender who was in France’s World Cup winning football team.

“Don’t worry bro,” he tweeted to Mr Macron. “I’ll take care of him.”

But Louis Aliot, number two of the far-Right National Rally, said Mr Macron had unnecessarily provoked Mr Trump. 

“He should have had a spirit of reconciliation,” in his Armistice speech “instead of which his comments and attitude were provocative,” he claimed.

In his interviews, Mr Macron also touched on upcoming nationwide protests by motorists next Saturday agains petrol and diesel tax hikes, saying “I hear their anger” and even confessing: “I have failed to reconcile the French with its leaders.”