US President Donald Trump has criticised his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in the wake of the recent large-scale anti-government protests over high taxes.
Trump posted several messages about the demonstrations on his Twitter account, claiming the protests were a direct result of the Paris climate agreement of which France is a signatory, but the United States is not.
“I am glad that my friend @EmmanuelMacron and the protestors in Paris have agreed with the conclusion I reached two years ago. The Paris Agreement is fatally flawed because it raises the price of energy for responsible countries while whitewashing some of the worst polluters in the world,” Trump wrote in the tweets.
….in the world. I want clean air and clean water and have been making great strides in improving America’s environment. But American taxpayers – and American workers – shouldn’t pay to clean up others countries’ pollution.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2018
The US president also retweeted conservative pundit Charlie Kirk, who falsely claimed France is a socialist country, the riots in the country did not receive any media attention and that protesters shouted: “we want Trump”.
Trump’s tweets come as the French government mulls changes to a wealth tax that partially led to massive protests across the country over the last weeks.
Government spokesperson Benjamin Griveaux told local media on Wednesday that the changes to the wealth tax could be turned back if not successful.
French paramedics, students join ‘yellow vest’ protests
“If a measure that we have taken, which is costing the public money, turns out not to be working, if it’s not going well, we’re not stupid – we would change it,” Griveaux said.
That wealth tax played a small part in the nationwide demonstrations that started in November.
Record gas prices
The protests, which started November 17, were mostly about record prices at the pump, with the cost of diesel increasing by about 20 percent in the past year to an average of 1.49 euros ($1.68) a litre.
Despite the protests, President Macron then announced further taxes on fuel, set to take effect on January 1, 2019, in a move he said was necessary to combat climate change and protect the environment, leading to the so-called yellow vest protest movement, which takes its name from the high-visibility jackets participants adopted as a symbol of their complaint.
Initially backed by people in small towns and rural France where most get around by cars, the protests snowballed into a wider movement against Macron’s perceived bias in favour of the elite and well-off city dwellers.
What’s happening in France? The ‘yellow vest’ movement explained
At the same time, the government proposed a wealth tax that eased the tax burden for many of the country’s wealthiest citizens, leading to criticism that Macron was a ‘President of the Rich’.
Earlier this week, the French government suspended the planned increases to fuel taxes for at least six months on Tuesday, saying no tax was “worth jeopardising” the country’s unity.
Increases in the cost of fuel and electricity, which were also set to take effect from January 1, 2019, would also be suspended for three months during the winter.
The protests eventually led to violence between demonstrators and the authorities, with shops looted and cars torched in plush neighbourhoods around the famed Champs Elysees Avenue.
In all, four people were killed and hundreds injured in clashes or accidents stemming from the protests.
Al Jazeera and news agencies