Return to Transcripts main page

Fareed Zakaria GPS

Interview with French President Emmanuel Macron. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired November 11, 2018 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:16] FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: This is a special edition of GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria coming to you live from Paris.

Today on the show, a global exclusive, an interview with the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, from his office in the Elysee Palace. Macron has spent the week traversing parts of his nation to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

This weekend he's gathered scores of world leaders including President Donald Trump to pay tribute with him.

I talked to Macron about his relationship with Trump, about the great war and whether today there is also a danger of discord, miscalculation and thus tragedy, about the rise of populism and how he is fighting it at home and abroad, and about his bold plan to make France great again.

But first, here's my take. When confronting bad news these days, many of us tend to assume that it's just a bump on the road and things will work out. President Obama was fond of invoking the famous quote, "The ark of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice."

Yet could we be wrong in assuming that in spite some of backsliding here and an election there, progress is inexorable?

Well, today behind me at the Arc de Triomphe world leaders commemorated the end of the largest and bloodiest conflict the world had ever seen. World War I marked a turning point in human history, the end of four massive empires, the rise of Soviet communism, the entry of the United States into global power politics. But perhaps its most significant intellectual legacy was the end of the idea of inevitable progress.

You see, in 1914 before the war began, people had lived through a world much like ours defined by heady economic growth, technological revolutions and increasing globalization. It was widely believed then that ugly trend lines when they appeared were temporary. To be overwhelmed by the onward march of progress.

In 1909, Norman Angel wrote a book explaining that war between the major powers was now so costly as to be unimaginable. The great illusion became an international best seller and just a few years later a generation of Europeans was destroyed in the carnage of World War I.

Could we be similarly complacent today? Well, there are serious statesmen who believe so. In an address earlier this year to the European parliament, Emmanuel Macron said, I don't want to belong to a generation of sleepwalkers that has forgotten its own past. As the historian Christopher Clark wrote in his book, "The Sleepwalkers," the statesmen of 1914 stumbled into a gruesome world war without ever realizing the magnitude of the dangers of their isolated, incremental decisions and non-decisions.

Macron is not simply talking. He has organized a Paris peace forum of more than 60 world leaders which began today to try to combat the dangers of rising nationalism and eroding global cooperation.

Are these dangers so real and pressing? Well, if you compare the world today, it feels less like the 1930s than the 1920s. Economic growth and technological progress were accelerating then, as now. We are also seeing a surge in nationalism and the breakdown of cooperation, which were the hallmarks of the 1920s. New great powers were ascending as they are now. Democracies were under strain from demagogues such as in Italy when Mussolini destroyed liberal institutions and established control in the 1920s.

Amidst all this was the growth of populism, racism, and anti-Semitism which were used to divide countries and exclude various minorities as outside of the real nation. Of course, because of these pressures in the 1920s, we got the 1930s.

The historian Timothy Snyder makes a distinction in his new book, "The Road to Unfreedom," between what he calls the politics of inevitability, the sanguine faith that it's all going to work out and the politics of eternity.

[10:05:08] The latter is the view held by leaders like Vladimir Putin. But nothing is inevitable. The true force comings, strengthened will, you can bend even reverse that arc of history. Snyder describes how Putin did just that in Ukraine refusing to accept that it was inevitably joining hands with the West. Now Putin may not win, the efforts of people like him to reverse the progress of the past might not succeed.

But it will take more effort from those on the other side. Things are not simply going to work themselves out while we watch. History is not a Hollywood movie.

For more, go to and read my "Washington Post" column this week and let's get started.

French President Emmanuel Macron and I met last night for a conversation in his office at the Elysee Palace. Macron had spent much of the day with Donald Trump whose first action on a French soil on Friday night was to tweet. Trump's tweet to his host read, "President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the United States, China, and Russia. Very insulting. But perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly." In fact, Macron says its reference to protections against the U.S. was

a reference to U.S. cyber intelligence capabilities. In any event, it was a typical Trumpian move designed to get attention, which it did. I asked Macron whether a clash between him and Trump was inevitable.


EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: We had a very good discussion this morning and it confirmed in front of the press that he was OK. I think --

ZAKARIA: Does that mean that his tweet was a mistake?

MACRON: I don't know. I'm not the one to command his tweets. I always prefer having direct discussion or answering questions that making my diplomacy through tweets. But I think we had a clear discussion. He is in favor of a better burden sharing within NATO, I agree with that. And I think that in order to have a better burden sharing, all of us do need more Europe. And I think the big mistake, to be very direct with him, what I don't want to see is European countries increasing the budget in defense in order to buy Americans and other arms or materials coming from your industry.

I think if we increase our budget, it's to have to build our autonomy and to become a natural sovereign power. I mean, it's part of our credibility. For all people vis-a-vis the rest of the world. And I think it's fair. I think your president is right regarding that. And I think I'm right to precisely promote this idea.

What I do believe is that if at this stage Europe has to become a more consistent, and more sovereign, and more united in democratic power, and today it's not yet the case. We built some very original during the past seven decades. That's -- there's a new step forward to be organized. And this is the case today.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about your relationship with Donald Trump. He says, and now he's made up with you or after the tweet, he says you have lots in common. And I'm wondering what that is, because he calls himself a nationalist. He draws on these populist forces. And you describe yourself often as one of the great opponents of these forces of nationalism and populism. So what do you think you have in common?

MACRON: Probably the fact that both of us are outsider of the classical politicians, I would say. And you're right from the business side it was not a favorite and it was an unexpected candidate. And I was pretty much in the same institution in France. Probably because we're very much in line in the fight against terrorism and we work very closely to together following this line.

We know where we disagree. And we are very straightforward in that, on climate, on trade, on (INAUDIBLE) terrorism. But we work very well together because we have very regular and direct discussions. But obviously you're right. I would say I'm a patriot. I do believe in the fact that our people are very important and having French people is different from German people. [10:10:08] I'm not a believer in a sort of globalism without any

differentiation. I think it's very inconsistent and it's extremely -- it makes our people very nervous. But I'm not a nationalist, which is very different for me from being a patriot. I do defend my people, I do defend my country, I do believe that we have a strong identity. But I'm a strong believer in cooperation between the different peoples.

And I'm a strong believer of the fact that this cooperation is good for everybody. Where nationalists are sometimes much more based on utilitarian approach and the law of the strongest, which is not my case. That's probably our difference.

ZAKARIA: Do you think it matters to have a personal relationship with Donald Trump? Because of all foreign leaders he certainly seems to warm toward you, and yet you tried very hard to keep him in the Paris climate deal, he said no. You tried very hard -- I remember talking to you in Washington -- to get him to stay with the Iran deal. He said no.

I know from my reporting that you tried to get him to have a united front on trade with the Europeans, with the Canadians, with the Japanese and to -- you know, to go to China with that and he refused. So it doesn't seem that personal dynamics matter that much with Donald Trump.

MACRON: I think it does matter. And you're right about the outcome on these different issues. And I was pretty lucid about Iran. I told you before his decision and what the rest of my personal feeling. Because there is a very clear (INAUDIBLE) for your president is that when he committed to do something vis-a-vis your people and his voters, he delivers full on this line.

I do pretty much the same. I like to deliver in line with my commitments during the campaign. So on all the different issues you mentioned, it's a deed and he's doing exactly what he committed to do during his campaign. And I do respect that and I'm fine with that. But I think this personal relation and our discussions can sometimes highlight some issues at stake.

And I think it is very important because it allows to us to have better a follow-up. For instance, on Iran he decided to leave the GCPOA. But finally he did respect the fact that we decided to remain. And because of this personal relation and our discussions, he accepted the fact that we will remain in the GCPOA, we have a different approach, and we coordinate each other, which for me is the best way to avoid a big crisis in the region and to avoid increasing the tensions.

So I think it's very useful. On the climate change, we still have very regular discussions. At a point of time, believe me, the U.S. will join again -- I mean, the global community on that for sure. Because your people want it, because your business leaders want it, your civil society wants it. So it's very important. So I think my responsibility is to try to optimize the situation under certain constraints and my responsibility is to bear in mind that our bilateral relation is deeply rooted in your common past and has to be preserved beyond.

ZAKARIA: Will Europe come up with an alternative to the dollar as part of the response to the -- the United States withdrawing from the Iran deal?

MACRON: I think today Europe is not clear alternative to the dollar. Why? Because de facto there is an international extra territoriality of the dollar due to its strength. And until now we fail to make euro as strong as the dollar. We may -- we made a great job during the past years. But it's not yet sufficient. We are too much dependent, our corporates are too much dependent, which is an issue. This is an issue of --


ZAKARIA: We will be back with more President Macon, but now President Trump is about to start speaking at the Suresnes American Cemetery for the American commemoration of World War I. Let's listen in.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: American battle monuments commission for doing just an absolutely fantastic job.

Exactly 100 years ago today on November 11th, 1918, World War I came to an end. Thank God. It was a brutal world.

[10:15:00] Millions of American, French and allied troops had fought with extraordinary skill and valor in one of the bloodiest conflicts in human history.

We are gathered together at this hallowed resting place to pay tribute to the brave Americans who gave their last breath in that mighty struggle. Earlier, Melania and I were deeply honored to be the guests of President Macron and Brigitte at the centennial commemoration of Armistice Day. It was very beautiful so well done.

To all of the French military leaders and dignitaries in attendance with us now, thank you for joining us as we honor the American and French service members who shed their blood together in a horrible, horrible war, but a war known as the Great War.

We also joined by many distinguished American military leaders. Thank you to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford. Thank you, Joe. Thank you.

Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley. Thank you, Mark.

Supreme Allied Commander-Europe, General Curtis Scaparrotti. General, thank you.

And Air Force Commander Europe, General Tod Wolters. Thank you, General.

Thank you as well to the members of Congress who have joined us. Ralph Abraham. Anthony Brown, John Carter, Paul Cook, Henry Cuellar, Richard Hudson, Bill Huizenga, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Rutherford, and Steve Stivers. Thank you all very much for being with us. Thank you very much. I know you wanted to be here very badly. We appreciate it.

In the United States, Armistice Day is now enshrined as Veterans Day. We have a number of amazing veterans with us today, including six veterans of World War II, James Blaine. James? Where's James? James, thank you. Thank you, James.

Frank Davita. Thank you, frank. Thank you very much. You look so comfortable up there under shelter as we're getting drenched. You're very smart people.


TRUMP: Pete Dupray. Pete, thank you very much. Gregory Mellakin. Thank you, Gregory. Steven Meldakof. Thank you. Thank you, Steven. And Jay Trimmer. Thank you. Thank you, Jay. Thank you. You look like you're in really good shape all of you.


TRUMP: I hope I look like that someday. You look great. America's forever in debt and we are forever in your debt. We really appreciate you being here.

We're also joined by another very special guest, a 13-year-old boy from the United States named Matthew Haasky. Matthew is in the eighth grade and he worked and saved all of his money for two years to make this trip to France. He wanted to be here in person to honor the American heroes of World War I. Matthew, thank you. You make us very proud. Where is Matthew? Matthew. Matthew, thank you very much.


TRUMP: You're way ahead of your time, Matthew. Thank you. On this day in the year 1918, church bells rang, families embraced in celebrations as you know filled the streets like never before in towns throughout Europe and the United States. But victory had come at a terrible cost. Among the allied forces, more than 1 million French soldiers and 116,000 American service members had been killed by the war's end.

Millions more were wounded, countless would come home bearing the lasting scars of trench war fare and the grizzly horrors of chemical weapons. During the final battle of the war, over 26,000 Americans lost their lives. And more than 95,000 were wounded. It was the single deadliest battle in United States history. Think of that. 26,000 Americans lost their lives in a battle.

Here on the revered grounds of Suresnes American Cemetery lie more than 1,500 U.S. service members who made the ultimate sacrifice in the First World War.

[10:20:04] Among those buried here are legendary Marines who fought in the Battle of Belleau Wood. In that treacherous forest and the surrounding fields, American Marine soldiers and allied forces fought and they fought through hell, to turn the tide of the war. And that's what they did, they turned the tide of the war. It was in that battle that our Marines earned the nickname Devil Dogs

arising from the German description of their ferocious fighting spirit. John Kelly knows that name, Devil Dogs, very well, John, right?

Earlier this year, President Macron presented an oak sapling from Belleau Wood as a gift to our nation, an enduring reminder of our friendship sealed in battle. We fought well together. You could not fight better than we fought together. Sergeant Eugene Wear from Hazelton, Pennsylvania, was one of the Marines at Belleau Wood. Eugene raced straight into a borage of enemy fire like no one has ever seen before to bandage his friends' wounds and carry them back to safety. Months later Eugene was mortally wounded. He passed away one day after Christmas.

His mother would come right here to mourn by the grave of her precious son. She loved him so much. She was one of the thousands of American moms and dads whose beloved children found their final resting place on the hillside. Each of these marvel crosses and Stars of David marks the life of an American warrior, great, great warriors they are, who gave everything for family, country, God and freedom.

Through rain, hail, snow, mud, poisonous gas, bullets and mortar, they hailed the line and pushed onward to victory. It's a great, great victory. Costly victory but a great victory. Never knowing if they would ever again see their families or ever again hold their loved ones.

Hear the words of a young soldier named Sergeant Paul Maynard from a letter he wrote only a few days before the end of the war.

"Dear Mother, I think of you all at home and I know if I am spared to get back, that I shall appreciate home more than ever, ever before. It will seem like heaven to me to be once more where there is peace and only peace."

On November 11th, 1918 Paul died in the final hours of battle just before the end. Now sadly he did not make it, he was among the countless young men who never returned home. But through their sacrifice they ascended to peace in heaven. Rest in peace, Paul.

The American and French patriots of World War I embody the timeless virtues of our two republics. Honor and courage, strength and valor, love and loyalty, grace and glory. It is our duty to preserve the civilization they defended and to protect the peace they so nobly gave their lives to secure one century ago.

It is now my great honor to present Major General William Matz with an American flag as a symbol of our nation's gratitude to the American battle monuments. The commission has done such an incredible job and, General, we very much appreciate it. Today we renew our sacred obligation to memorialize our fallen heroes on the soil where they rest for all of eternity.

Thank you very much. And, General, this is a great honor. Thank you very much. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.


TRUMP: Thank you all. God bless you. This has been a wonderful two days we've spent in France and this is certainly the highlight of the trip. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.


[10:25:09] ZAKARIA: That was President Donald Trump speaking at a memorial that remembers American World War I casualties. On Thursday, the GPS team was with President Emmanuel Macron when he visited a memorial to French, German and Commonwealth soldiers killed in the war. There he solemnly reviewed the troops and laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Macron who is steeped in history and genuinely committed to the idea of reconciliation, he puts it, has gathered more than 60 world leaders in Paris not far from here where I stand to talk about peace today.


ZAKARIA: The Paris peace form that you have started, it comes out of a fear you have that some of the pillars of stability in the world are not so stable anymore. And you have talked about not wanting to be one of these generation of sleepwalkers who forgets the past.

I wonder, is part of that -- that forgetting of the past that the United States has forgotten the role that it has played? Because when I talk to people in Europe, there's a real sense that one of the crucial pillars of stability that has kept the peace since 1945 was America's unwavering commitment to Europe. And people do worry that under President Trump that commitment is no longer as strong, perhaps not even there.

MACRON: Look, I would not say that exactly like that. I think peace is always very fragile, for sure. And that's why I think it was very important to take such an initiative with this peace forum and that what I wanted to do, especially these days, 11th of November, for the end of the First World War. Because probably we won the First World War, but we lost peace at that time.

The first pillar for me is -- yes indeed, to be deeply rooted in our common past. Being very much attached to freedom and always remember the cost of the end of peace. Because nobody has in mind this cost. The First World War is 10 million people killed. It's huge. Coming from everywhere in the world. It was a generation devastated. So I think it's very important to do it this day and in order to remember and to remember that peace is very fragile.

Second pillar is cooperation. And for me after the First World War our predecessor started with (INAUDIBLE), to build --

ZAKARIA: To build nations. Yes. MACRON: Exactly. To build a first cooperation between nations. It

was the very first time. And Woodrow Wilson played a very important role, even if the U.S. didn't join this common group. But he had a very important role. The U.S. had a very important role. And it failed. It failed because of probably the humiliation after the First World War.


ZAKARIA: And the --

MACRON: Of some countries.

ZAKARIA: Yes. Of Germany, but -- and lack of participation of the United States.

MACRON: Probably the lack of leadership at the time, definitely the financial and economic crisis. And the raise of nationalisms and totalitarianism. And all in all it led us to the Second World War and a new massacre. So that's why I do believe that cooperation is the second pillar of peace today. How to work together. Multilateralism. And I'm a strong defender of that.

Sometimes people consider it's too long, very painful, but for me this is one of the very important outcome of the two world wars, of the 20th century. Negotiating, discussing, finding compromises is always better than war. And it's very important.

Obviously in such a context, this cooperation, the role of the United States is very important. And we need the U.S. commitment for such a cooperation, because your country has a very important role. It was -- I mean, during the past decades, the U.S. played in certain ways a last resort role of this international community. So we do need your involvement. And that's why I always fought, and I will fight against in order to have the U.S. very much involved in this cooperation.

That's why I think it's important to have the U.S. participating to climate change, participating to the different initiatives and that's why I do believe it's very important to have President Trump present for these days.

ZAKARIA: But Chancellor Merkel of Germany has been very clear. She says that Europe needs to recognize that it cannot rely on the United States as much anymore. Is that the reality, the new reality of the world?

MACRON: Look, I think the new reality of the past decade -- it didn't start two years ago -- the recent years were very much characterized by a decrease of the presence of the U.S. in certain regimes. And I think the U.S. remains our first ally everywhere and a very important and key partner in Syria, in the Middle East, in Africa and in different places, and especially in the fight against terrorism.

But after the Second Word War, the U.S. played a very important role for the European security, especially for NATO. And it's changing. It's changing because of the fact that your president wants a burden- sharing. And I think, I have to say, I share this view. I share this view because, if after the Second World War, we needed the U.S. to be present for our security. I think now the momentum for Europe is to build its own security and its own sovereignty.

And I think it's not something against the United States, and I think that's a very good component. Obviously, we have to share common values. We have to work together on common goods, against inequalities, against climate change, against, I mean, all the destabilization of the current environment.

But what Europe needs is to build its own capacities and its autonomy in order to protect itself. That's why I'm increasing my investment in defense from the classical defense, I would say, to the cyber, and that's why I do want to build more solidarity within Europe.

And I think it's very important. Because if you want to build an actual Europe; if you want to reinforce the homogeneity and the strength of all Europe, you have to convey the message in people in Hungary, in Poland, in Finland and in very different places that the day they have an issue, the day they are attacked, Europe is the one to protect them and not another power.


ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," the waves of populism have come ashore all around France, but Macron has fought against populism. How does he survive? He'll tell us when we come back.


ZAKARIA: A wave of populism has rolled over the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, many other nations across the globe, putting populists in power, or close enough that they define the agenda. In France today, though, it is Emanuel Macron who sits in the Elysees palace, not his populist challengers.


ZAKARIA: Let me ask you how you intend to tackle this wave of populism that is sweeping through the Western world and in some places even beyond the Western world.

It seems to me that your answer has been to be a very aggressive reformer. But a lot of the reforms seem a lot like the kind of ideas that Tony Blair or Bill Clinton had, in that you are in favor of markets and you want markets to operate, but you are also in favor of protections for the weak, social justice. And that combination used to be called the Third Way. Is that what you're presenting, just you are a more energetic and better proponent of these ideas?

MACRON: I think it's different because the French history is different. We didn't have 20 years ago the Third Way. So you can see some similarities. But I would -- I would say my strategy is very different. First, I have to restore competitiveness and rebuild an economic and social model. And that's what I fixed the first year, was very important reform on labor law, tax cuts, and economic reforms on labor market and for our corporates.

Obviously, it's very painful. It makes you less popular, definitely. You decrease in polls. But it's fine. I have a five years mandate and I'm not obsessed by polls. But I had to do so and I had (inaudible) those reforms because France was the only country in Europe, and especially in the euro zone, to have, for so many years, one of the highest unemployment rates. And when you having something between 8 percent to 12 percent of your population unemployed, it creates, I mean, big destabilization because it means that you have people without a job for years and years and sometimes decades. When you have an unemployment rate for young people at around 15 percent, in some neighborhoods 25 percent, it creates big disorders. And this is the situation in my country.

So the first pillar is indeed to make my country more competitive and to work very hard to do so. The second pillar of my reforms is to prepare the future, having much more investment on innovation and human capital. This is absolutely critical because we are in a world of innovation and competences. If we want to be one of the leaders of the upcoming world, we have to work on artificial intelligence, industry of the future, new agriculture and so on.

The third pillar is about sovereignty at the national and European level. And this is probably one of the main differences with the Third Way you mentioned. I'm not a believer in ultra-liberalism (ph) and global markets. I believe both in market economy and social justice and fairness. I want (inaudible) to decide for my people because I'm elected by them. I don't want the global market to decide for my people.

And for me, these three pillars, fixing the model, building a new investment for the future and being more sovereign is the best answer to the nationalists and those who play with the fears. Why? Because I don't like to use the term "populist" because "populist" means you are with people. I don't want to leave the exclusivity of being with people to these guys. I'm with people.

ZAKARIA: What about the cultural issues? Because one of the areas where at least the left in general -- and I know you are not exactly right or left -- but the left has had trouble, is that it provides a very compelling answer, sometimes, to most, many people, on the economic side. But it has no answers to the cultural anxieties that are moving people...

MACRON: You're right.

ZAKARIA: ... immigration, things like that?

MACRON: This is my famous third pillar, when I speak about sovereignty. I mean, I think you have to provide a cultural answer. For me, the first one is for education. That's why I wanted to restore the fact that we teach our literature; we reinforce the presence of our literature, good language for our people. And I think we have indeed to restore, in depth, our history, to be proud as a people, to be proud of our history and our culture, and to explain that we have a DNA. And there is no global people without any differences. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," earlier in the week I toured a car factory with President Macron, and while we were there I asked him about France's economy, his attempts to reform it, the difficulties. That tour, that conversation, when we come back.



MACRON: Hi. How are you?

ZAKARIA: Very good to see you, sir. Such a pleasure to have you.

Carlos, how are you my friend?

(UNKNOWN): How are you?

ZAKARIA (voice over): All week President Macron has been touring around northern and eastern France, the areas of the country that were hardest hit by World War I and are now hardest hit by economics. I was with him on Thursday as he toured a Renault plant in an area called Maubeuge. With him was Carlos Ghosn, the chairman and CEO of Renault's parent company.

At the event, Ghosn announced a new line of vans would be made at the plant, adding some 200 new jobs in this struggling region. Macron campaigned for the presidency on a platform of reforming France's economy, a legendarily difficult challenge. And by most accounts, he has delivered, making deals with unions, weathering months of on- again, off-again strikes and enduring a difficult economic climate. He promises to persist with the next round, including pension reforms next year.

After Macron's tour, the factory had to get back to work, so we met in a gritty office just off the factory floor.

(on camera): Do you -- when you look at a plant like this, do you think that this is -- the expansion of this plant is the product of your reforms and what reforms?

MACRON: I think it's both the result of the dynamic of the industry, because there is a big recovery in the auto -- for the car makers and the automotive industry. And this is indeed the first result of our policy. Because we decided to make a lot of tax cuts for companies. We decided to decrease the taxation of capital when invested in the country. We decided to reform in depths our labor laws and labor organization. And we streamlined a lot of regulation. All this regulation and taxation were absolutely killers for our industry. And that's why we destroyed so many jobs in the country.

What's happening now, and this is a very first result of the reforms passed last year or beginning of this year, is that there is a recovering depth of investment and employment. And here Renault decided to invest 1 billion in the country, which is a very big number. And for this plant, Maubeuge in a very difficult neighborhood, they decided to invest 450 million euro and to create at least 200 jobs, direct jobs.

This is, for me, very important indeed, and that's why my strategy is to accelerate this transition, to facilitate investment, to facilitate training programs, because this is one of the key elements of my strategy, how to train and retrain people, especially people with low qualification or non-qualified unemployed people, and how to help this kind of neighborhood by a very aggressive policy.

ZAKARIA: So many, many French presidents have talked about reform. Chirac used to talk about reform. Prime Minister Raffarin sent a letter to every Frenchman talking about reform. Sarkozy did some reforms but then reversed them. Are you going to be able to actually conclude the reforms and stay with them even if there are more strikes, even if there are more problems?

MACRON: Absolutely. First, because I speak about transformation more than reform. And what I try to explain is this in order to go to this final point. You have to explain it's not something to just repair the country but to build a new economic, social and environmental power.

Second, I passed, at the very beginning of my mandate, some very important reforms, on taxation, on labor, on railway system. Some of the reforms considered as certainly impossible in France, we did it. It is done.

ZAKARIA: And yet growth in France is not quite what you want it to be?

MACRON: For sure.

ZAKARIA: What's -- what's left?

MACRON: Look, growth and all the macroeconomic figures in the short run are not the result of the first reforms because we just passed the reforms, as I told you, but some of these reforms were totally passed, I mean, low, four, five, six months ago. So, I mean, it's impossible to have the concrete macroeconomic reality. It would take, I mean, 18 to 24 months, at least. That's why I wanted to (inaudible) all the big reforms, because I know that you need time to get results.


ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," President Macron tells us about probably the most important decision he's ever made, to get married.


ZAKARIA: To call Emmanuel Macron a maverick is an understatement. With zero electoral experience, without the backing of a major party, he received 66 percent of the vote last year, becoming France's youngest leader since Napoleon. His upstart political party then swept the parliamentary elections. But since then, his ratings have sunk. So what makes him tick?


ZAKARIA: Probably the most important decision you made in your life other than deciding to run for the presidency of France, you made when you were 16 years old. You fell in love with a woman who was your teacher, who is 24 years older. When I look at it and I think about what you must have gone through, the difficulties with your family, with her family, with society at large, is that a powerful window into understanding you?

MACRON: Probably, probably. Probably she's much, much more bold and courageous than I am. Because she was 40; she has a life, and it's totally different. So I think the main merit is my wife's merit.

But, for sure, what I built at that time, what we built together is not to be obsessed by what people think about you. But when you are convinced and sincere about what you are doing, what you don't -- when you don't lie to yourself and to the other, you can build something which was seen as impossible, definitely.

ZAKARIA: When I ask people in France how you're doing, what they often tell me is, "Well, you know, his poll ratings are very low now."

How do you deal with the fact that, you know, they have gone down a lot?

MACRON: Yes, I mean, I'm not obsessed by that. You are not elected by polls. And I don't have midterm elections. I'm -- I have a five years mandate. And what I have to do, especially in this current environment, is to deliver.

And that's totally true that my polls decreased because I passed very unpopular reforms. And guess what? I was elected precisely because all my predecessors failed or decided not to deliver these reforms. I do believe that these reforms are a necessity for my country and are a necessity for the future generation.

What I have to do now is to be totally dedicated to the implementation of that. I have to spend my energy to explain these reforms to my people, and that's probably how I can recover. And I have to show the results in the coming semesters, or years, of these reforms.

But I think my responsibility is not to stop, for sure. Because my view is that my duty, my mission today, is to fix the country from an economic and social point of view. It's to build a new social model for France and Europe with new protection for people in this current environment, in order to reduce inequalities.

You're right, the situation today is definitely less favorable than one year ago. It's not a big surprise to me. But you refer to my personal past. I spent many years, many years, without the respect of a lot of people. I spent many years even with people I loved would -- didn't totally understand what I was doing. But at the end, because it was sincere, because I was precisely consistent with myself and I never stopped, they recognized and they accepted.

So I'm personally and strongly persuaded that the French people will progressively recognize and agree with the fact that we are doing our best for the country and we are serving the country for the future.

ZAKARIA: Mr. President, a pleasure for us to have you. Thank you so much.

MACRON: Thank you very much, Fareed. It was my pleasure. Thank you very much.

ZAKARIA: Pleasure.


ZAKARIA: And that is it for this special edition of "GPS" from here, high above the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Thank you for being part of my program today. I will see you next week.