Ahead of a landmark visit to Athens on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron has told Kathimerini that he is optimistic about Greece’s future as a country for investments and entrepreneurship and underlined his support for the country as an ally and a member of the eurozone.
“The positive signs are multiplying: Growth is returning, investments are growing, unemployment is dropping,” Macron told Kathimerini. “And, just as France stood at its side during the crisis, France will support Greece in this new beginning,” he added.
The French leader, who is being accompanied by dozens of entrepreneurs on his two-day visit, said he wants to “make the most of all opportunities to show that Greece is a place for investments and growth, a place with a future and entrepreneurial activity.”
Security will be tight across the capital all day as Macron is to meet with his Greek counterpart Prokopis Pavlopoulos at 2 p.m. and then Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at 3.30 p.m., with both he and Tsipras scheduled to deliver speeches on Pnyx Hill in the evening. On Friday morning the French leader and Tsipras are to co-chair a meeting of French and Greek entrepreneurs at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center and he is to leave Athens in the early afternoon.
In his interview, Macron indicated that Greece and France have a similar vision of the future and strategic interests, stressing the potential of greater bilateral cooperation the areas of defense and security.
The French leader emphatically ruled out the prospect of Grexit, stressing that such a development would mark the beginning of the end of the common currency bloc.
“A Greek exit would signal, sooner or later, the end of the euro,” he said, adding that “the best way to avoid the exit of any member-state is to draw an ambitious plan.”
Asked about Turkey, Macron said it was important to avoid the formation of a rift with the European Union as the country is “an important partner in many crises we face jointly,” referring to the migration crisis and the threat of terrorism.
As for a deal signed between the EU and Ankara to curb illegal immigration, he noted that it “produces results… and this was necessary particularly for reducing the pressure on Greece, the country that has been dealing with the migration crisis from the very beginning.”
[The quotes from the interview were translated from the Greek version.]