Ahead of a two-day visit to Athens, which starts Thursday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls expressed French interest in investing in Greece in an interview with Kathimerini and underlined France’s support for Greece’s continued presence in the eurozone and its efforts to reform its economy.
“We want to be part of the economic recovery in Greece,” Valls said, adding that authorities in France were encouraging more French companies to invest in Greece.
Energy, including renewable sources, as well as transport and tourism are among the sectors of interest, the French premier said.
He added that France is a firm supporter of Greece remaining in the euro, referring to the efforts of President Francois Hollande to secure a deal for Greece’s third bailout last year. Greece’s reform efforts since then “made it natural... for the issue of the debt to be examined finally,” he said.
Valls said that France was prepared to offer further know-how to bolster Greece’s reform efforts, particularly in the areas of taxation and public administration. “It is very important that we help your government build a fully functional and strong state,” Valls said, noting that this was a prerequisite for drawing investments and boosting growth.
The recent Eurogroup agreement to unlock further bailout funding and lighten Greece’s debt from 2018 “restored trust,” Valls said.
The French premier also expressed his country’s readiness to help Greece in its efforts to tackle the migration crisis. Noting that France has contributed about a third of some 1,350 border guards and other staff working to curb migration in Greece, Valls said the country was prepared to dispatch another 200 people. He called on Ankara to continue enforcing an agreement with the European Union to take back migrants that had arrived in Greece from Turkey.
Valls is to meet Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos at 7.15 p.m. following his estimated arrival in Athens at 6 p.m. and is to have talks with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at 11 a.m. on Friday.