French president urges investment in Greece
By Sabine Wibaux and Catherine Boitard, AFPATHENS--French President Francois Hollande promised on Tuesday to promote French investment in recession-hit Greece as he argued that European growth was the best way to meet fiscal targets.
February 20, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
“I am here to mobilize French companies to invest in Greece,” Hollande told reporters at the start of his one-day visit after meeting with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
“We need more growth in Europe, this is how we will be able to achieve our deficit-reduction targets,” he said.
France under Hollande has repeatedly stressed that austerity must be accompanied by measures that fuel sustained growth.
In this, his line has contrasted with the emphasis by European powerhouse Germany which insists on balanced budgets above all.
Hollande had to admit on Tuesday that France would miss its growth forecast for 2013.
But he insisted that France “is among countries which are in the least poor position, even if we are far from meeting our objectives.”
Hollande was received with military honors at Athens airport by Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
He arrived during a 24-hour strike by Greek media, but state broadcaster NET showed footage of his arrival without journalistic commentary.
And in contrast to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose arrival had sparked an angry demonstration by some 30,000 people last year, the streets of Athens were quiet ahead of a general strike on Wednesday.
“Today we inaugurate a new chapter in our relations,” Samaras said.