A meeting between Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris on Sunday ended with the French president’s pledge for solidarity toward Greece and Sarkozy’s call to Greece’s European partners to show their support, stressing that this solidarity was precisely the reason why the Eurozone and the euro had been established in the first place.
The French president stressed that France’s support for Greece would not be political only and he agreed with the need to combat financial speculators, noting that they were now targeting Greece but could potentially target any other country in the future.
Papandreou said he had found active support from France, which recognised and supported the efforts of the Greek people. Noting that resort to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was not Greece’s preferred choice, Papandreou again stressed that Greece was not asking for financial assistance, only the opportunity to borrow at a similar rate as that available to other Eurozone countries.
On his part, the French president made it clear that the Euro area countries would rise to the occasion. “There must be no doubt on this point,” Sarkozy underlined after his one-hour meeting with the Greek premier, also attended on the French side by Economy Minister Christine Lagarde and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.
“The Greek government has taken the measures expected of it. The countries of the Eurozone must now be ready to take their own [measures]. France will therefore do what is necessary,” Sarkozy added, while repeating that Greece did not currently need financing.
Prior to his meeting with Papandreou, the French president held a 45-minute conversation over the phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had met Papandreou on Friday. He said the countries of the Eurozone were currently working on “a number of precise measures” designed to support Greece but declined to specify what these were.
“Christine Lagarde, working in tandem with her colleagues in the Eurozone and in Europe, is working on a number of precise measures if Greece needs them,” he stated.
Among other things, the French president agreed that speculators were artificially raising the cost of borrowing for Greece and he underlined that they had to be tackled. He stressed that this was a problem that could potentially affect many countries, unless there was a “collective” reply to it.
He cited “specific, precise means” for achieving this and clarified that “these will not be announced tonight” but that, when they were unveiled, would show that Greece was not supported only just politically but in all aspects of any future requirements it might have.
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