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live François Hollande is announcing the establishment of a French-Greek Business Council

19 February 2013 / 17:02:34  GRReporter
3392 reads

Victoria Mindova

François Hollande is on an official visit to Athens. He met with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the partners in the coalition government Evangelos Venizelos and Fotis Kouvelis as well as with President of the Republic, Carlos Papoulias. The purpose of his visit is to support Greece in its attempts at financial recovery and lay the foundations for the deepening of the bilateral business relations between the two countries.

"Sectors such as tourism and health in Greece need technical support. The experience of France in these areas is available to Greece," Hollande said after his morning meeting with Samaras. He explained that French companies wanted to actively participate in the recovery of the Greek economy. Hollande stressed that he had strongly encouraged French businessmen to participate in the privatization programme of Greece, which offered good opportunities for investment.

During the visit of the French President in Athens, the two countries have signed an agreement for cooperation in tourism and established a French-Greek Business Council. "I'm not in Greece to sell weapons, because it was heard as well. I'm here to help to restore the confidence in Greece," Hollande explained and stressed that Europe’s commitment was not only in providing liquidity, but also in stimulating economic growth.

Samaras defined Hollande's visit as a vote of confidence and support to the Mediterranean country. "We discussed the possibilities for French investment in the fields of construction, the army and the management of water resources. France has been actively supporting us and we have excellent relations in the field of public management," said the Greek Prime Minister.

The head of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises Dimitris Daskalopoulos said that the crisis required from Greece not only to put its finances in order, but also to take care of society. The new investment would open up new jobs and support economic recovery. "Our people hope to live in a European environment which is defined by economic growth, commitment and national pluralism," said Daskalopoulos. He explained that the environment was much more suitable for investment at present and was clear that the alliance between France and Greece would make it easier for the country to overcome the economic crisis.

In Greece, there are companies that have been withstanding the crisis as stated by Thanassis Lavidas, chairman of the foreign relations department of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises. He said that French entrepreneurship has been playing a dominant role in the country, adding, "We are here to discuss concrete business plans and actions with our French counterparts".

Hollande confirmed that French companies were interested in investing in Greece and the joining of forces would bring mutual benefit to the entire euro zone. "The sooner Greece emerges from the crisis, the faster Europe will regain its dynamic positive growth," the French President insisted. Samaras, in turn, jokingly remarked that both countries might easily achieve their common goals because "We are Francophones and you are Grecophiles".

Antonis Samaras said that the establishment of the French-Greek Business Council has opened a new chapter in the history between the two countries, which he hoped would yield actual results and bring investment opportunities in Greece as well as in France.

Hollande said that a long-standing friendship have been connecting the two countries. He congratulated Angela Merkel in her absence for the decision to keep Greece in the euro zone with the third package of financial assistance and did not fail to note that Greece has taken very serious steps to get the financial aid from Europe.

"We have won the first battles. The euro zone has emerged from the severe crisis. Now, we need to invest in Greece. This is the purpose of my visit," said the French president. He stressed that over 120 French companies with around 30,000 jobs and a turnover of over two billion euro have been operating in Greece.

"I cannot blame the French companies, which withdrew from the Greek market," he said, adding that now his task was to try to bring these companies back. Hollande stated that not only big companies must again pay attention to Greece, but also small and medium enterprises. "We want neither favours nor advantages".

"I invite French companies to come to Greece. If we want French-Greek relations to be sustained, more French companies have to establish their operations in the country," said the President and insisted that the key expression for achieving the common objectives of the two countries was positive economic growth, which should be restored in Europe.

Then, he was more firm to the entrepreneurs in the hall and said that the public sector has fulfilled its obligations in the rapprochement of the two countries. Now, business should meet its obligations as well.

French businessmen were interested in the privatization programme in Greece and in its development within the government programme. Samaras stressed that under the programme that the country was obliged to observe, the state treasury would have to raise 2.6 billion euro from privatization in 2013. The transactions to be made are to sell OPAP, DEPA and DESPA and the sale should be closed this year. "I do not mean to sound too positive, but I think the sale of these companies can bring us more than 2.6 billion euro."


Tags: PoliticsFrancois HollandeAthensVisitSamaras
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