French President Francois Hollande is expected to land in Eleftherios Venizelos airport at 4:50 pm Thursday, rush to Athens downtown, lay a wreath at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier and start talking “business”. Investments in Greek public assets that currently enjoy an extended Sales period. It is not coincidence that 70 French businessmen accompany Hollande in his 24-hour visit to Athens.
The French president will have a busy plan that includes meetings with the Greek President and the Prime Minister, a speech at the Parliament, and the traditional tour in Acropolis Museum. And of course, lunches and dinners. He will accommodate in Hotel Grand Bretagne which will mean that traffic will be disturbed and at times being halted in the city’s downtown.
Problems for motorists and commuters will start at 4 pm on Thursday and end at 6:30 pm Friday. Hollande will catch the plane for Paris at 7 o’ clock.
2,500 policemen will watch over the French President.
Greece is hoping very much that the visit of the French president will send a message of support for the debt-ridden country and will attract investors. the Greek side hopes very much for a clear statement by Hollande, a statement supporting the much needed debt relief.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and President Francois Hollande will sign a cooperation declaration that will determine the future of the two countries. Some of the points are reportedly:
Providing expertise to Greece in the sectors of public administration, taxation and reforms.
Strengthening of bilateral foreign trade.
Investment cooperation in areas such as new technologies, digital economy, infrastructure, tourism, agriculture, processed agricultural products and others.
Cooperation in the field of education and culture. The promotion of each language in the educational system of the other country as well as educational and research cooperation.
Specific reference is expected to be made to the refugees issue in the context of a common policy as is being shaped by the European Union”
Apart from the political and diplomatic importance of Hollande’s visit, numerous are also the economic, trade and business aspects.
The privatization of Greek Railways Company (TRAINOSE) and the Port of Thessaloniki (OLTH) are reportedly high on the list of the French businessmen, although French SNCF had allegedly withdrew its interest for Trainose.
What is interesting but not surprising is that no talks on “defense cooperation” are scheduled. France is keen to “unfreeze” the purchase of four FREMM frigates. But given the fiscal situation of the country, this project has to wait.
In his last visit to Athens, back in February 2013, Hollande had put pressure on Greece – already in deep debt – to “lease two FREMM multi-purpose frigates for the search of oil and natural gas reserves in the Aegean Sea and later purchase six frigates.”
The plan could not materialize in 2013 and will not come true in 2015 either. Hollande will indeed also meet with Defense Minister Panos Kammenos in the context of official welcome and a casual chat about health and weather. However I hardly believe that Tsipras’s junior coalition partner will tell Hollande “Mais, Non, Monsieur Le President, les frigates ne sont pas possibles” over a cup of coffee and a glass of Greek aperitif.
Hollande – Tsipras at the airport
So I guess that this time Hollande will press the Greeks to award the public assets to French companies that express interest.
Anyway, before his visit Hollande proudly announced that he would come to Athens in order to help. In an interview with daily Kathimerini, Hollande stressed his determination to support the government’s reform drive for extricating Greece from six years of crisis. “I’m here to help,” and “we need to look into the future with trust” he said, among others.
BTW I found it interesting that no Greek media reports anything about possible French interest in privatization of Water companies. Is the French interest ‘None’ or was the issue omitted with elegance and the purpose to avoid Greek protesters start speaking French at Syntagma Square?
PS timeo Gallis et auxillium ferentes and bring an umbrella with you :p
For some weird reason, when Hollande comes to Athens, it rains…
Hollande & PM Samaras on 19. February 2013
Sell him the beach in front of the villa of the Dutch royal family, so he can lease it to Holland for a million per day.
Quelle bonne idée!
Hollande is a federalist sock puppet par excellence who declared that without the EU the country of France is not strong enough to face the world on its own, that France cannot survive alone. Even though tiny places like Vanuatu do, go figure. A Vichy Petainist through & through.
Maybe it is a good thing that we cannot buy their oil exploration frigates since from the first memorandum to the third, the creditors (principally France & Germany) lay claim to our ‘energy assets’ in return for their ‘loans’. Since the reality of our situation is that creditors ‘lend’ money (in fact not a penny yet, only guarantees) to pay themselves (i.e. cash to their bankrupt banks plus profits on guarantees) AND think that this self-serving gesture allows
them to impose economically crazy, destructive & self-serving policies on us too – the best escape is pleading poverty….
ps the agriculture issues includes rolling back protection and domaine on yoghourt and feta, so Danone can enter the greek market with yoghourt made from dried cows milk and call it “Greek”…
Hollande is a fake socialist, a failed bureacratic type who got elected merely by staying in one place and waiting. He is the antithesis of competition, which the neoliberals everywhere claim to support. Strange that competition does not apply to politicians or big companies — only to the common people.