Macron: France will continue to support Greece

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AFP 2017 Ben Stansall Eurozone Unemployment Rate Hits 8 Year Low

In the historic speech Thursday on the Pnyx hill in Athens - the founding place of democracy - Macron emphasized the cultural ties that bind Greece and France together, and spelled out his idea for a more cohesive euro zone, warning that "sovereignty, democracy and trust" are all "in danger". Her finance minister has proposed transforming the euro zone's rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), into a fully fledged EMF with more powers to support weaker members.

The French president underlined the presence of French enterprises in Greece.

With its own EMF, Europe would be less reliant on the Washington-based International Monetary Fund, a key player in successive Greek bailouts.

Macron praised Greece's austerity reforms but said ordinary Greeks had paid a heavy price and repeated his call for an easing of the country's debt burden. "We were, we are and we will be here", he said, underlining that this bond will continue to be strong.

The IMF has said it will only contribute funds to the programme if European Union creditors take further steps to lighten Greece's debt load, which has yet to happen over strenuous objections by Germany. The intellectual who also takes the opportunity to express his skepticism about the reform of the labor code, the first major project of the president's mandate: " Any continuing decline in unemployment in France would be welcome, but the experience of other countries suggests that this would involve new forms of inequality.

Greece's third rescue programme, now financially supported by European Union states alone, runs to August 2018.

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"We are absolutely ready and determined to move in this direction and I'm certain our lenders have the same approach of avoiding hurdles and delays", Tsipras said.

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