Gov’t shifts focus to Macron visit and TIF

Gov’t shifts focus to Macron visit and TIF

The government is gearing up for a return to work next week with preparations for two key events at the top of the agenda: a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron scheduled for September 7 and 8 and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s speech at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) a few days after that. According to sources, Tsipras’s first meetings are due on Tuesday and Wednesday.

For the first time in more than two years, the focus of those meetings will not be economic reforms being demanded by creditors but attempts to shape a new narrative of opening the country up to investment.

A scheduled visit by Macron to Athens in the first week of September, which was confirmed by his office on Thursday, is expected to bolster that narrative as the French president and his administration have supported Greek calls for debt relief and the easing of austerity policies championed by Berlin.

According to sources at the Elysee Palace quoted by Reuters, Macron is aiming to build momentum behind a drive to deepen European integration. His aides said the French leader has a “very European” agenda starting next week with scheduled trips to Austria, Romania and Bulgaria before plans to host the leaders of Germany, Spain and Italy the week after.

After Macron’s visit, the next milestone for Tsipras will be his scheduled address on the weekend of September 9 and 10 in front of the country’s political and business elite at TIF.

Sources close to the premier have indicated that he wants to herald investment plans, either during Macron’s visit or in his Thessaloniki speech. It is likely that Tsipras will be in a position to unveil concrete details about the interest of French companies in the Thessaloniki Port Authority by that time.

Meanwhile, government officials are said to be planning the next in a series of regional conferences which aim to assess the economic priorities of different regions as part of a broader goal to boost growth. The first two events were held in recent weeks in Kozani, northern Greece, and the central town of Lamia. Next on the agenda is said to be Crete, followed by Thrace and Thessaly.

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