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Economy

No more danger of Grexit but Brexit possible, Hollande declares on Athens visit

media French President François Hollande with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athèns on Thursday Reuters/Michalis Karagiannis

Grexit is no longer on Europe's agenda, French President François Hollande declared on a visit to Athens Friday, adding a warning that it is now possible that Britain could leave the European Union. Hollande met Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and addressed the Greek parliament, promising that France will stand by Greece as it puts through tough cuts.

"France must continue to stand by Greece," Hollande said after signing a strategic partnership with Tsipras, adding that Europe must believe Greek officials' promises that they will put through the cuts and tax package agreed with creditors.

The partnership promises French expertise in tackling tax evasion - France collected a record 20 billion euros from tax dodgers last year - and help in modernising Greece's civil service.

France is also to provide 60 experts to reinforce European frontier agency Frontex, helping to staff registration centres for migrants entering the European Union across its borders.

Some 48,000 people have entered Greece in the last five days, according to the International Office of Migration, the highest in a week so far.

More than 500,000 have come to the country this year so far.

The question of Greece leaving the EU is "behind us", Hollande said, hailing Tsipras's acceptance of the EU's conditions for staying in the eurozone.

But he warned that Britain, which is not in the eurozone, could pull out of the EU in a forthcoming referendum.

Read our previous article: Hollande hopes to boost Greek morale with Athens visit.

Tsipras on Friday acknowledged  that Hollande "was among those who persuaded me that I had to accept" the July bailout.

Hollande has called for a renegotiation via an interest deferral of the soaring Greek public debt, which is equal to 177 per cent of annual economic output. 

Hollande, who was accompanied by four ministers, including Finance Minister Michel Sapin, is the third French president to address the Greek parliament after Charles De Gaulle in 1963 and Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008.

During Hollande's visit EU-IMF auditors were undertaking a review of Greece's implementation of the cuts and tax package.

Tsipras on Friday slammed "absurd and extreme neo-liberal interventions" that "threaten social peace" following a row over home foreclosures.

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