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New French ambassador sees multilevel cooperation between France and Greece

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France’s new ambassador to Greece, Patrick Maisonnave, calls for cooperation on multiple levels between Athens and Paris on issues ranging from security to investment in his first interview in Greece.

Maisonnave told Kathimerini that France will defend its interests in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) – where French company Total has signed a licensing agreement for hydrocarbon exploration along with Italy’s Eni – while stressing that Turkey is a player that does not always cooperate at the regional level.

“Greece is clearly at the center of a multitude of challenges: the refugee crisis, humanitarian issues, security issues, geopolitics and a slew of regional and extra-regional factors that are particularly complex, foremost of which is Turkey, which does not always play the game of regional and bilateral cooperation. We are allies, but in practical terms Turkey acts alone, as evidenced by its recent initiative in Syria,” said Maisonnave.

The ambassador highlighted three areas where Greece and France’s cooperation could be strenghtened, including economic, immigration and defence.

“The first is economic. The former government made bold decisions. The new government is presenting clear and encouraging prospects that we welcome and which will lead to the path of economic growth. There is also the immigration crisis, which is not a Greek crisis but a European Union one. Lastly, there’s the area of defense, the strategic dimension. We want to make an effective contribution so that the Hellenic Armed Forces can return to a state that will allow Greece, together with others, with France, to deal with security challenges,” he said.

The ambassador also touched on an increase in French investment in Greece, during his interview with Kathimerini.

“France wants to be one of Greece’s leading partners, just as it was during the decade of the crisis. I would like to hail the French businesspeople who stayed in Greece despite the difficulties,” he said.

“[Prime Minister Kyriakos] Mitsotakis has embarked on a wide-ranging and bold effort to restore the economy and I have no doubt that French businesspeople and French investment funds will be in a position to participate in this effort – in the area of defense, which I mentioned previously, but also in the areas of transport, insurance and financial services, in the hotel and tourism sectors, in energy, pharmaceutical products, the management of water resources and waste, and the area of agriculture and food.”

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