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French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to outline his vision for Europe to become a more assertive global power against a backdrop of war in Ukraine and other security and economic challenges, in a speech on Thursday ahead of pivotal European Parliament elections in June.

The French president plans to focus on strategic and geopolitical issues in Europe, including defense, the economy, protecting the environment and safeguarding democracy, his advisers said. Russia’s war in Ukraine, now in its third year, is expected to be the main theme of the speech Macron will deliver at Paris’ Sorbonne University on Thursday.

France has been a firm supporter of Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression, and Macron has often clashed with other Western leaders as he has insisted that Europe must stand by the country at any cost. Last month, the French president alarmed European leaders by saying that sending Western troops into Ukraine to shore up its defenses shouldn’t be ruled out.

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Macron, a staunch European, is also expected to rally support for his centrist Renaissance party ahead of the June 6-9 elections for the European Parliament. The French president lost his majority in France’s most influential house of parliament, the National Assembly, after the 2022 election to the far-left coalition and the far-right National Rally party.

The social situation in France remains tense as Paris prepares to host the Olympic Games this summer, amid protests from teachers, police officers, and farmers in recent weeks. The protests follow huge demonstrations last year against Macron’s ultimately successful proposal to rise the retirement age.

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