Hollande, Sarkozy show rare unity in ceremony

Hollande, Sarkozy show rare unity in ceremony

Hollande, Sarkozy show rare unity in ceremony

France’s outgoing president Sarkozy (C) and President-elect Hollande take part in a ceremony marking the 67th anniversary of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany in WW II. AFP photo

France’s President-elect François Hollande stood shoulder to shoulder with ousted opponent Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday, showing a united front after months of bitter rivalry as they marked the end of World War II.

To the stirring anthem “The Marseillaise,” a solemn-looking Sarkozy began the proceedings by laying a wreath at the statue of Charles de Gaulle, the former president and leader of the Free French Forces, in a nod to Sarkozy’s Gaullist roots.

The Arc de Triomphe has a special significance for World War II since Adolf Hitler marched his Nazi troops through the iconic monument when Germany took France over in 1940. It also was the site where Allied troops, including many U.S. soldiers, celebrated victory over Germany 67 years ago. Sarkozy, who looked particularly downbeat throughout the ceremony, was joined by Hollande to lay another wreath at a World War I memorial.

Merkel to Hollande: Take necessary decisions

The two leaders, putting aside their differences, then stood side by side in silence for several minutes at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Speaking to the media following the ceremony, Hollande said that after a “particularly” tough campaign, “it was useful and helpful for the country to know it can still come together ... around the president still in power, and the newly elected one, for the same one cause: the country.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel wrote to Hollande yesterday saying that the eurozone was looking to them to take the “necessary decisions” to resolve the debt crisis. “It is up to us to take the necessary decisions for the European Union and the eurozone, to prepare our societies for the future and protect and advance prosperity in a sustainable way,” Merkel wrote in a letter released by her office.