I was very much tempted to give the title “Hollande: I didn’t come to sell arms – Samaras: even if you would, we have no money”. But it would be only partly true… Even if Samaras would love to say that, the protocol did not allow hims. Therefore, we stick to the true report.
“I didn’t come to sell arms, I came for solidarity,” French President Francois Hollande told Greek Prime Minister Antonia Samaras upon his arrival in Athens, putting an end to nasty media claims, he would try to lease and sell frigates to debt-ridden country.
Greece’s austerity efforts haven’t been in vain, Hollande stressed:
”I came to Greece to express to the Greek people the support of France, and the trust that we want to show in the government’s steps in recent months. We should give Greece every possibility and opportunity to achieve its goals.”
“I have come here to mobilize French companies to make investments in Greece. We have to strengthen their presence.”
State broadcaster NET reported, that Hollande gave ‘order’ to French interior minister to visit Greece as soon as possible and discuss the issue of illegal immigration.
*Francois Holland arrived at 11:15 in the morning amid rain fall and media strike.
* Draconian security measures forced the closure of many main streets in downtown Athens. At times not even pedestrians were allowed to walk around.
* In fact these draconian security measures were superfluous as no Greek seemed to have any intention to protest Hollande and thus amid rain fall, humidity and relative low temperatures.
*Greek government spokesman accused SYRIZA for initiating the strike on Greek media in order to ‘downgrade Hollande’s visit. The strike was ruled ’illegal’ and ended at 4 p.m.
*State broadcast NET was transmitting live footage from Hollande’s visit and meetings with PM Samaras and President Papoulias. Without presenters though and without comments. Greeks were delighted to watch 89 times Holland’s airplane arriving at Athens airport, and to listen to French national anthem another 89 times.
*Highlight of the live unplugged coverage: A camera microphone caught the voice of a French shouting “Merde! Merde!” (shit!shit!). I saw it more than 40 times.
* Grouper was reportedly served for lunch. Guest of honour Hollande was supposed to enjoy the company of the three leaders of Greek coalition government. Lunch was ordered to a catering company of a hotel, as Maximos Mansion has no money for own cooks and sous-chefs.
*Francois Hollande must have felt deeply alone as his table companions chose to chat with other guests than with him. What did the man do then? He staffed some bread to spend the time till the grouper arrive.
*Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici surprised both the Greek and the French president, when he reached his chair with a remarkably well-performed acrobatic leap.
* Towards the end of the visit in late afternoon, state broadcaster NET reported that Francois Hollande offered to ‘lease’ one frigate Greece one frigate…
Pleased to see you..
All in all, Greeks were very pleased to have Francois Hollande in Athens, to hear him expressing his support to the government’s efforts government and the people’s sacrifices. And more important to see a powerful EU president not so speak a word of complain about the money France is borrowing to Greece – in contrast to German Chancellor Angela Merkel who paid a visit to Athens with a grimy face, under the heavy pressure of her conservative voters and greedy banks and left the city wishing Greeks “would stay in the Euro zone.”
PS Greeks saw up to Hollande with awe. I personally honoured Francois Hollande by eating French fries