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Last Updated: Monday, 14 July, 2003, 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK
High security for Paris parade
Soldier polishes cannon of tank
Nearly 4,000 troops took part in the parade
France's Bastille Day parade has passed off peacefully amid tight security a year after an attempt to assassinate President Jacques Chirac.

For the first time the parade was headed by a German general, Holger Kammerhoff, leading 120 troops from the five-nation Eurocorps, based in Strasbourg.

Nearly 5,000 police were guarding against any new assassination attempts, terrorist attacks or demonstrations.

Mr Chirac later used a set-piece television interview to back his government's political and economic reform plans.

Nearly 4,000 troops, 280 horses, 350 vehicles and more than 100 took part in the parade down the Champs Elysees.

Enclosures

In a new tactic, police erected barriers to divide the crowd of onlookers into separate groups of 1,500 people.

Jacques Chirac and Jean-Pierre Raffarin

Anyone entering one of the 50 enclosures was checked for weapons.

Last year, far-right militant Maxime Brunerie fired a rifle at Mr Chirac's open-top car near the Arc de Triomphe.

A bystander who grabbed the rifle and pointed it into the air, Jacques Weber, said he would not attend this year's presidential reception because he was only invited after journalists intervened.

"They gave me the Legion of Honour but they give that to everybody," he said.

No tax rises

Mr Chirac told television viewers that the government reforms that have brought thousands of workers and artists on to the streets were vital to help France adapt to a changing world.

He said the pension reforms proposed by Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin were unavoidable - because of the ageing population - and that further measures would be necessary in future.

He also said:

  • The EU stability pact placing restrictions on national budget deficits should be temporarily softened
  • Taxes would not be raised
  • Military spending would be increased, in line with existing plans
  • His relations with US President George Bush were based on co-operation not subordination
  • UN weapons inspectors should return to Iraq
  • International relations should be governed by rules set by the UN, not unilateral action

Police had been expecting demonstrations by Corsican separatists angry at the failure of an autonomy referendum and at the jailing of eight men for their part in the killing of the island's governor in 1998.

Amnesty

Three members of the French Green Party were arrested for brandishing banners calling for the release of jailed anti-GM food protester, Jose Bove.

The French President traditionally announces an amnesty on Bastille Day, but Mr Chirac said last week that he would not free Bove.

However, he indicated he might cut his 10-month sentence by two months.

Bastille Day marks the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789 - the event that started the French Revolution.

Among numerous commemorative events outside France, the French embassy in Havana for the first time invited Cuban dissidents to attend its celebration.

It also invited President Fidel Castro, though he has not accepted the invitation since 1998.


SEE ALSO:
Eight jailed for Corsica killing
11 Jul 03  |  Europe
Profile: The amateur Jackal
15 Jul 02  |  Europe


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