As he vis­its Athens, Hol­lande says, ‘I’m here to help’

In Kathimerini in­ter­view, France’s pres­i­dent stresses his de­ter­mi­na­tion to sup­port gov­ern­ment’s re­form drive, calls for French in­vest­ments

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY ALEXIA KEFALA

French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande is in Athens on an of­fi­cial two-day visit to Athens to meet with Greek gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials. Speak­ing to Kathimerini ahead of his visit, the French pres­i­dent stressed his de­ter­mi­na­tion to sup­port the gov­ern­ment’s re­form drive for ex­tri­cat­ing Greece from six years of cri­sis. marks a de­ter­mi­na­tion to keep Greece per­ma­nently an­chored in the eu­ro­zone, ac­cord­ing to the wishes of the Greek peo­ple. This agree­ment is based on re­spon­si­bil­ity and sol­i­dar­ity: re­spon­si­bil­ity on the part of the Greek gov­ern­ment – and I salute the courage and lu­cid­ity of [Prime Min­is­ter] Alexis Tsipras – and sol­i­dar­ity from Europe to­ward Greece. The Greek Par­lia­ment has shown its de­ter­mi­na­tion in adopt­ing th­ese re­forms by a large ma­jor­ity. The aim is to mod­ern­ize the state and re­vive the Greek econ­omy. The steps in that di­rec­tion are well known: rat­i­fy­ing the mea­sures, pass­ing the first re­view, re­cap­i­tal­iz­ing the banks and start­ing a dis­cus­sion on debt ser­vic­ing. The pro­gram is very loaded and the dead­lines are short but it is time for Greece to exit the cri­sis once and for all. And I will be there to help it, as I have al­ways done

from the ta­ble of the Euro­pean Coun­cil.

Yes. That dis­cus­sion be­longs to the past and we need to look to the fu­ture with trust. The re­forms that must be im­ple­mented are de­ci­sive and dif­fi­cult. And the Greek peo­ple have al­ready made a huge ef­fort and agreed to many sac­ri­fices. But af­ter the im­ple­men­ta­tion of re­forms, there will be growth and em­ploy­ment. A Greek turn­around is im­per­a­tive for Europe. It will bring sta­bil­ity and con­fi­dence. I am com­ing to Greece to ex­press France’s sup­port, but also to send a mes­sage, par­tic­u­larly to French com­pa­nies: Come and in­vest in Greece.

Europe has rules and they need to be Fran­cois Hol­lande ar­rives at Athens In­ter­na­tional Air­port yes­ter­day. ‘Dur­ing my visit, Alexis Tsipras and I will take the ini­tia­tive to iden­tify the ar­eas in which France could in­vest and, more im­por­tantly, mo­bi­lize the in­ter­est of French busi­nesses,’ Hol­lande said in an in­ter­view with Kathimerini ahead of the visit. re­spected. They are har­mo­nized with the co­he­sion and sta­bil­ity of the euro. But stream­lin­ing pub­lic fi­nances should not be an end in it­self. Europe needs to move in the di­rec­tion of in­vest­ments. This is the point of the [Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Jean-Claude] Juncker plan and this is the point of struc­tural funds. Greece needs to take ad­van­tage of ev­ery op­por­tu­nity that is pre­sented to it. A plan worth 35 bil­lion eu­ros has al­ready been agreed. The Euro­pean In­vest­ment Bank can also act. Like­wise, the Greek youth needs to ben­e­fit, mainly from the Euro­pean Union’s ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams.

Faced with this dra­matic sit­u­a­tion, our guid­ing prin­ci­ples should again be re­spon­si­bil­ity and sol­i­dar­ity. Re­spon­si­bil­ity be­cause Greece, like Italy, needs to cre­ate the in­fras­truc­ture for re­ceiv­ing and iden­ti­fy­ing peo­ple reach­ing Europe, the so-called hotspots. Sol­i­dar­ity be­cause Europe can­not leave Greece alone in this. It has a duty to pro­vide all the nec­es­sary means for help­ing the refugees, who need to be re­lo­cated to all mem­ber-states, and es­cort­ing ir­reg­u­lar mi­grants. This is the role of Euro­pean or­ga­ni­za­tions like Fron­tex and [the Euro­pean Asy­lum Sup­port Of­fice] EASO, and France will be pro­vid­ing dozens of ex­perts in this frame­work. Europe also has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to help the coun­tries that are al­ready ac­cept­ing refugees at the gates of Europe – I am think­ing mainly of Le­banon and Jor­dan – and or­ga­niz­ing the nec­es­sary co­op­er­a­tion with Turkey on the ba­sis of mu­tual and spe­cific com­mit­ments.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Greece

© PressReader. All rights reserved.