Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis issued an invitation to French business owners to invest in Greece, during statements at Elysee Palace in Paris on Thursday where he was on an official visit.
"Greece has a new government that is entrepreneurial and has proven this in action, making a great leap of development," Mitsotakis said, being welcomed by French President Emmanuel Macron. "France is a strong country and a steady friend of Greece," he noted, with long-term relations over hundreds of years, including helping in the Greek Revolution of 1821.
"Following ten years of crisis, Greece is entering a growth trajectory and claims its place in Europe, which remains our natural home," the prime minister siad. He also noted he had first met Macron when the latter was finance minister, and said he has "great expectations of our collaboration."
He said that in a new European landscape Europe should protect its citizens, and reiterated President Macron's request that a permanent civil protection mechanism be set up in the EU.
Mitsotakis arrived at Elysee Palace with his spouse, Mareva Grabowski-Mitsotakis, shortly after Macron had seen off British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
"I know you became prime minister only a few weeks ago, but that the relationship of our countries is very important to you," French President Emmanuel Macron said.
"When Greece was in crisis, France's support was important. This does not take away the great courage shown by the Greek people and their decision to remain in the eurozone," Macron added.
The French president spoke of "a long friendship based on culture" and emphasized that France believes in a unified front at EU level to face joint challenges. The new strategic agenda for Europe will be discussed as soon as the new European Commission convenes, he said, noting that its priorities should be growth, fighting unemployment, and a common eurozone budget.
France wants to strengthen defense, he said, adding that "I want to express our solidarity in terms of Turkey's activities in Cyprus' EEZ" and he called for more collaboration on this issue. "The situation in the East Mediterranean makes Greece an important country in the area - we know the tension Greece faces. Vigilance is necessary, as is solidarity," he said, noting that the EU and France will not weaken before the actions of Turkey.
He also raised the issue of climate change, referring to fires in Greece this summer, and said "the issue of the climate will be at the forefront" in Europe. He also spoke of finding a joint solution to the migration issue, which has progressed but without a lasting solution.
He reiterated his pleasure at Mitsotakis' visit to Paris, saying that "my friendship towards your country and the Greece people, a friendship that is important for Europe and for everyone's future."
The delegations of two countries are meeting for talks, while the two leaders held a private meeting and his spouse was given a tour of Elysee Palace by Brigitte Macron.
Mitsotakis to the press
In statements to the press later, Mitsotakis said that he wants to "change the narrative in European capitals. We are now a self-confident country that participates in great European discourses and has the ability to become the pleasant development surprise of the near future."
Asked about Turkish challenges in the East Mediterranean, and against Cyprus in particular, he said that "there is European solidarity, Europe will not leave Cyprus undefended."
Sources said that the private meeting between the two leaders included talks on EU developments and on collaborations between EU groups on climate change and changes in Europe in general. They also discussed cultural exchanges, particularly between pieces in the Louvre and Greek museums, which will be further discussed.
In an interview with France 24 TV, Mitsotakis spoke of the issues he would discuss with Macron, including the reduction of primary surplus obligations from the current 3.5% as of 2021. He said this would succeed if the Greek government "restored its credibility through real reforms."