More than 2,000 policemen in uniform and hundreds in civilian clothes will be deployed in downtown Athens on Thursday and Friday, when French President Emmanuel Macron will pay his first official visit to Greece. The sound of police helicopters will accompany every step the French president will take – whether in a car or by foot. A security ring will be built around the French embassy, the French Institute and French businesses. Main avenues and roads will be closed to traffic will be closed on and off.
Police has impose protest ban during the first day of Macron’s visit. The ban is valid from 7 am Thursday until midnight.
Macron will arrive on Thursday and will meet President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. In the evening he will speak on the hill of Pnyx, the hill where ancient Athenians held their popular assemblies. On Pnyx, Macron will speak in front of French language students and teachers.
Thursday, Sept 7th
After 12:00 noon Arrival
01:30 Wreath at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier – Greek Parliament/Syntagma Sq
Meeting with President Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Tsipras.
Macron -Tsipras joint statement to media.
Visit Acropolis, Acropolis Museum, Ancient Agora
19:00 Speech on Pnyx, also PM Tsipras will deliver a message
Visit to French Archaeological School, reception with the French community in Athens.
21:00 Official dinner hosted by President Pavlopoulos
Friday: Sept 8th
Macron-Tsipras meet with Greek and French entrepreneurs in Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Faliron
Wife Brigitte will have a separate program
Democracy and Business
An official form the French embassy told Athens News Agency that the French president wants to express his confidence for the new chapter opening for Greece and for Europe.
By choosing to speak before youngsters, students and teachers of the French language at the Pnyx, Macron selects it as a symbol of the new page Europe has turned after the economic crisis and the crisis of confidence that swept through it. He is keen to show that Europe must be rebuilt democratically.
During his visit, Macron will be accompanied by Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau and 40 business leaders, among them top managers from Total, Suez Environment, EDF, Sanofi, Orpea, Bpifrance, Roulier, Vinci and Engie.
About 140 French and Greek business leaders will have the opportunity to meet during the visit.
The aim is for the two sides to identify opportunities and difficulties in cooperation on sectors of great interest to France, such as energy, transport infrastructure and the environment. The French delegation will also include several startups.
Macron wishes to show that, as France supported Greece during the crisis, it will continue to do so during economic recovery, according to the official. Paris believes the sacrifices of the Greek people have paid off, as there are positive signs of recovery, of investments restarting and of unemployment -although high- lowering steadily.
He also wants to stress that it is in the collective interest to complete Greece’s program in the specified time frame and for the country to enter a phase of normalization, the French official said.
On the Greek side, government and businessmen rally to achieve some important agreements during the visit. Aim is that Macron’s visit will not be limited to formal agreements to tighten trade relations or the usual memorandums of cooperation.
The government expects Macron’s support in Greek Debt relief. Furthermore, it wants to send the message that the Greek-French ‘alliance’ acquires economic meaning beyond fiscal issues and debt management.
Media information speaks of a few important agreements on the way, like, for example, the acquisition of a share of a Greek company outside the financial sector, French interest in Athens Water Company (EYDAP), even discussions around the banking sector. The French are interested in new business deals like the wagons supply for the new metro line and for the Tram, as will as the supply of aircraft.
PS When US President Barack Obama visited Athens in 2016, he wanted to address the Greeks from the hill of Pnyx. After thorough checks, the plan was rejected for security reasons.