Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (L) shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron in Athens, Greece, Sept. 7, 2017. France will continue to stand by Greece's side in its efforts to achieve economic recovery, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday at the start of a two-day official visit to Athens. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)
by Maria Spiliopoulou
ATHENS, Sept. 7 (Xinhua)-- The handing of the Greek debt crisis has been a European failure underlining the need for a revival of the European Union (EU), French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday during a two-day official visit to Athens.
"We need to find the strength to restart Europe," the French leader said when delivering a speech at Pnyx, the site where ancient Athenian citizens used to gather to host their assemblies and the seeds of democracy were planted 25 centuries ago.
Opposite Acropolis hill, Macron outlined his vision for the future of the European Union (EU), urging for "the rebirth of democracy in Europe."
During his address, which was broadcast live on Greek national broadcaster ERT, the French leader warned that the EU would face dissolution if it did not change.
He called for dialogue across the continent over the next months with the active participation of citizens.
Macron said he would soon submit France's proposal for a road map to rebuild Europe.
Meanwhile, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said his country was "determined" to promote discourse in Europe for a "new contract for democracy, equality and solidarity."
The financial crisis evolved into a political crisis and widened inequalities between states and citizens, the Greek leader said, calling for swift and radical changes to ensure the EU would have a future.
"We can achieve fiscal unification if we achieve political and economic integration," Tsipras said, adding that he supported Macron's proposal for a eurozone finance minister, but said the EU also needed a social justice minister.
During his visit to Athens in statements to the press before and after talks at the Presidential mansion and the Prime Minister's office earlier on Thursday, the French leader conveyed a message of support to Greece in its efforts to exit the seven-year debt crisis and achieve economic recovery.
"We would like to support growth which is returning to Greece, as we have showed solidarity so far," Macron said.
The French President urged Greece to continue on the reform path and that its international creditors would eventually take measures for the relief of the Greek debt load.
"France will continue to stand by your side...We owe it to you. Your resilience, courage and the reforms undertaken should not be forgotten," he told Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
On Friday, Macron and Tsipras will preside over a working round-table meeting between Greek and French business leaders to explore opportunities for investments and cooperation in many sectors.