17 Sep French ambassador to ANA: Our role is to explain to France Greece’s true face
The role of the French embassy in Greece is to explain to France the country’s true face which no longer is what people read in the newspapers, France’s Ambassador to Greece, Christophe Chantepy, said in an interview with Athens-Macedonian News Agency on Saturday.
Asked how French investors see the Greek economy, Chantepy said that with the exception of the banks which were hit hard by the crisis, all the French subsidiaries that had opened in Greece before the onset of the crisis in 2009 have chosen to stay in the country. “Eight years later, all of them, which are about 100 in different sectors, are satisfied with their choice,” he said.
The six years of the crisis were difficult but now the economy is stabilizing and the first signs of a recovery are showing, the companies are very pleased they chose to stay in Greece. “A good example is Leroy Merlin which will open a new store in Kifisia.”
He went on to explain that for eight years, people abroad heard only negative news about Greece and its economy and now all must be done to reverse this image. “The role of the Greek government is to explain what is being done, the efforts made which have started to bear fruits. But also the role of the French embassy in Greece, because we love Greece, is to explain France the true face of Greece, which no longer is what we read in the newspapers,” he said.
Concerning the recent mini-summit in Athens, Chantepy said it was an “extremely useful meeting” where leaders expressed their shared concerns and not divisive. “The Athens summit indicates that some EU member states sit at the table to find the common points which they consider necessary to promote and then submit them before the European Council,” the ambassador said.
“As the Greek prime minister and the Fench President said, it was a contribution to the whole of the EU, with elements for the preparation of the Bratislava summit. “A contribution to reconcile Europe with its citizens in order to love it again,” he added.
Chantepy said Europe is experiencing a very important moment in its history, not just because of the Brexit, but because the Brexit showed that European citizens are having a hard time understanding what the EU does and doesn’t do and what’s its use. “Therefore, the big challenge in the coming months is not only negotiating Britain’s exit, but restoring citizens’ confidence in Europe so they can believe again in the European project.”
The French ambassador admitted EU citizens are not always aware what the EU does and thatr it is up to the school, the media and politicians to explain the EU’s role. “If this effort is not made, the most wrong and craziest discussions will be exploited by populists,” he said.
Asked about French-German relations (the French-German axis), Chantepy clarified that, since the founding of the EU, nothing happens if both countries don’t agree to it. If the two allies didn’t agree on an issue, Europe moved slower. “Rest assured that the French-German pair is doing very well. We hear comments like ‘it used to be better’, but these are the complaints we always heard, of the type, ‘the golden age is gone’ and are true for all areas,” he said.