Greece Finds a Friend in France: Paris Provides Breathing Space for Athens
Pierre Leblanc, Noriko Watanabe and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The majority of people who voted in the referendum in Greece said “no” to the European Union economic diktat. However, instead of more confrontation and possible exit for Greece from the Eurozone, it soon became apparent that France was stepping in. Therefore, while the crisis remains, it does appear that France is trying to help Greece to formulate a way out of the crisis.
Immediately after the referendum in Greece had taken place both Athens and Paris seemed to be upbeat. Indeed, President Francois Hollande of France stated categorically that new proposals by the government of Greece were “serious and credible.”
Hollande further stated that the government of Greece had “shown a determination to stay in the Eurozone…(and lawmakers in Greece showed) power, commitment and I would also say, courage.”
Greece is still determined for some form of debt relief but this is being tempered by the need to appease Eurozone creditors to some degree. In other words, political elites in Athens and Paris seek a more fair deal that will generate sincere dialogue between all interested parties.
France 24 reports “Quoting unnamed sources at the French Finance Ministry, Le Monde said Friday that French experts had been working hand in hand with Greek negotiators for several days. “The Greeks hold the pen, but they’re using us as sparring-partners,” said one source. “We’re not telling them what to write, but advising them about which measures would be acceptable” to the creditors, added another.”
Prior to the referendum it appeared that the tit-for-tat approach between Germany and Greece was swaying heavily towards Germany. Indeed, France seemed to be taking a quiet approach in comparison to Germany. However, the referendum held by Greece seems to have awoken France from its quiet stance. After all, elites in Paris know that if compromises aren’t made soon then the crisis will spiral until Greece is forced to exit.
Prime Minister Tsipras of Greece was contacted by Hollande after the referendum and warned him that creditors needed some fresh proposals. Hollande rightly told Tsipras to “Help me to help you.”
This plea by France to Greece seems to be working because now French officials are insisting on debt relief for the government based in Athens. Manuel Valls, the Prime Minister of France, stressed that France “refuses a Greek exit from the Eurozone.”
The situation remains tense but clearly France is adamant that Greece must remain within its common European home. Therefore, it is essential that the government of Greece does indeed take note of France given the political clout of this nation.
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