Friday, October 23, 2015

French President Francois Hollande began yesterday Thursday (22.10) a two-day official visit in Athens, at the invitation of the President of the Hellenic Republic, Prokopis Pavlopoulos.

“My visit is a visit of support and friendship," Hollande told journalists after laying a wreath at the Monument for the Unknown Soldier, while at an official reception at the Presidential Mansion last night he suggested that the eurozone should start discussing debt relief, stressing that “France intends to bring the issue on the negotiating table and relieve the country from this burden, while Greece must move on with the necessary reforms.” The French President also commented on the refugee crisis, saying the EU must support Greece because its borders are Europe’s borders, and urged foreign companies to invest in Greece.

Following a meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday (23.10) morning at the Maximos Mansion, Hollande expressed solidarity, promising that France will stand by Greece with regard to a series of agreed reforms and will assist the country in the  ongoing refugee crisis. Tsipras highlighted the need for Europe’s progressive powers to work together as “the European Union must return to its founding values”. 

The French President is expected today to co-sign a declaration advancing bilateral cooperation with the Greek government in several sectors, to address the Greek parliament and to visit the University of Athens. 

He is accompanied by a large delegation, including Finance Minister Michel Sapin, National Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin, Secretary of State for European Affairs Harlem Desir, and a large number of business representatives intending to explore potential opportunities for investment in Greece.

  • Hollande’s newspaper interview

In an interview ahead of his visit with ‘Kathimerini’ newspaper released yesterday, the French President stressed the need for Europe to move in the direction of investments, expressing his determination to support the government’s reform drive for extricating Greece from six years of crisis and to encourage french firms to build up their operations in Greece to help its economic recovery.