New impetus for French ties

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will look to boost traditionally close ties between Greece and France today when he meets French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris in the first head-to-head talks between the two leaders. Speaking to Sunday’s Kathimerini, the French Ambassador to Greece Christope Farnaud described relations between the two countries as «excellent» but said there was scope for improvement in a number of areas. «To start with, we can strengthen our political consultation with the aim of promoting the European project on a number of fundamental issues such as security, social policy and development,» said Arnaud. «Greece and France agree on almost everything.» The ambassador said despite the fact that France had become the biggest investor and foreign employer in Greece, there was scope for more cooperation, especially in the areas of tourism and transport. Arnaud believes that the two countries can also develop closer cultural ties and would like to see more Greek and French students involved in exchange programs. The French ambassador suggested that the European Union should do more to help Greece deal with illegal immigration. «France and, we hope, the rest of Europe must stand by Greece’s side,» said Arnaud. «We are already working closely to this end but we must make more progress.» Another subject likely to feature in talks between Karamanlis and Sarkozy, whose maternal grandfather was a Sephardic Jew from Thessaloniki, is the EU’s relations with Turkey. The French president has supported the possibility of Turkey being granted a «privileged partnership» rather than full membership of the Union.

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