French President Emmanuel Macron will convey a message of confidence in Greece and the Greek people in achieving economic recovery during his two-day official visit to the country which starts on Thursday, an official said during a briefing at the French embassy in Athens on Tuesday.
Macron will meet on Thursday with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, with whom he will discuss issues of bilateral and European issues. In the evening he will speak on the hill of Pnyx, in central Athens. The French president wants to express his confidence for the new chapter opening for Greece and for Europe, the official said. By choosing to speak before youngsters, students and teachers of the French language at the Pnyx, Macron selects it as a symbol of the new page Europe has turned after the economic crisis and the crisis of confidence that swept through it. He is keen to show that Europe must be rebuilt democratically.
The speech will be followed by a visit to the French Archaeological School and a reception with the participation of the French community in Athens.
During his visit, Macron will be accompanied by Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau and 40 businesspeople. About 140 French and Greek business leaders will have the opportunity to meet during the visit. The aim is for the two sides to identify opportunities and difficulties in cooperation on sectors of great interest to France, such as energy, transport infrastructure and the environment. The French delegation will also include several startups.
Macron wishes to show that, as France supported Greece during the crisis, it will continue to do so during economic recovery, according to the official. Paris believes the sacrifices of the Greek people have paid off, as there are positive signs of recovery, of investments restarting and of unemployment -although high- lowering steadily.
He also wants to stress that it is in the collective interest to complete Greece’s program in the specified timeframe and for the country to enter a phase of normalization, the official said. Following the decisions taken at the Eurogroup on June 15 on Greece, the main issue after the program is completed will be to build something new that will allow the momentum of the reforms to give more room for maneuver once the direct support of the country has ended.
Macron was present as Economy Minister to Francois Hollande’s government during the management of the Greek economic crisis and had formed a very specific position: To support Greece and avoid Grexit at any cost.