France–Greece relations

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France-Greek relations
Map indicating locations of France and Greece



France–Greece relations or Franco-Greek relations, are foreign relations between France and Greece. In modern times, both countries established diplomatic relations in 1833, three years after the Greek Independence. France and Greece, due to the strong cultural and historical ties, have had a strong and special relationship[1] and strategic alliance for decades and today enjoy perfect diplomatic relations.

The two countries are EU, UN and NATO member states, and cooperate in many other multilateral organizations, such as the La Francophonie, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and the Union for the Mediterranean.


The Greek ambassador to France, Karapanos, during the discussions at the League of Nations in 1925
Painting depicting Greek military units in the WWI Victory Parade in Arc de Triomphe in Paris in July 1919

Relations stretch back to Classical Antiquity, when Ancient Greek colonies were established in pre-Roman Gaul, the most important of which being Massilia (Greek: Μασσαλία, French: Marseilles), located in southeastern France (which today is the country's oldest city, as well as the second largest, by population). From Massilia and other Greek colonies, Greek goods and elements of the Greek civilization, including coins, spread inland (see Greeks in pre-Roman Gaul). The Gauls in turn became a part of the Hellenistic world proper after the 3rd century BC, following the Gallic invasion of the Balkans and their establishment in Galatia in Asia Minor.

In the Middle Ages, French crusaders played a major role in the Fourth Crusade and set up several states in Greece following the dissolution of the Byzantine Empire in 1204. This began the period known as Frankokratia ("Frankocracy") in Greece. The main French Crusader states were the Principality of Achaea and the Duchy of Athens, while the other West European states were mostly Italian (Lombard, Venetian or Genoese).

Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in a joint press conference in Paris in February 2013

In the modern age, the French Enlightenment and the ideas of the French Revolution influenced the main thinkers of the Modern Greek Enlightenment, such as Adamantios Korais (who lived in France) and Rigas Feraios, and formed the ideological groundwork for the Greek War of Independence. French troops also occupied the Ionian Islands during the Napoleonic Wars, paving the way for the first independent Greek state of modern times, the Septinsular Republic. During the Greek War of Independence that began in 1821, French Philhellenes played an important role, providing much-needed military expertise and propagating the cause of Greek independence abroad. Among the most important was Charles Nicolas Fabvier, the father of the modern Greek regular army. French ships also took part in the crucial Battle of Navarino, which secured Greek independence, and a French expeditionary corps landed in Greece in 1828 to help clear the country of remaining Ottoman garrisons.

Along with Great Britain and Russia, France became one of the guarantor powers of the independent Kingdom of Greece. This was reflected in Greek domestic politics during the reign of King Otto, where a French Party vied for influence with the rival English and Russian parties. Britain gradually assumed the dominant position in Greek affairs after the 1860s, but France still retained a measure of influence, especially in military affairs, where French military missions were called to modernize the Greek military (in 1884–87 and 1911–14). France also played a leading role in the effort to bring Greece into World War I, involving itself in the "National Schism" on the side of Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos. French troops,working together with the Venizelists occupied Athens, seized the royal Greek fleet, and finally, in June 1917, helped depose King Constantine. The pro-Greek policies of the French government, however, were reversed after Venizelos' electoral defeat in November 1920, after which France supported Kemal Ataturk's Turkish nationalists in their war against Greece.

Bilateral relations and cooperation[edit]

Foreign Minister of Greece Stavros Lambrinidis with French Ambassador Jean-Loup Kuhn-Delforge in October 2011

France and Greece were allies during both World Wars, the Korean War and the Cold War, and have never been adversaries of each other. The two countries have had a friendly and strategic alliance for decades and are full members of many international organizations, including the UN, the European Union, NATO, WTO and OSCE. Greece has been a full member of the Francophonie organization since 2004. There are regular high-level visits between the two countries, and frequent contacts between the two heads of state. France and Greece are co-operating in many fields, including cultural, scientific, judicial and military. Several Greek cities, and most notably Argos and Athens, are the seats for French Schools of Archaeological and Historical studies, where students from both countries study and co-operate in the fields of Archaeology and History.

The fact that 3 French Presidents (De Gaulle, Sarkozy and Hollande) have been the unique foreign leaders (along with US Eisenhower and Bush) in the history of modern Greece that have had the honor to address the Greek Parliament is a clear certification of the long live connection between the two nations.[2]

Military cooperation[edit]

France and Greece have a very close military cooperation, with both countries annually participating in various military drills and exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean, along with other countries like Italy, Egypt and Israel. Such exercises include the Medusa 2016[3] and the Operation Bright Star. Additionally, the French Navy and the Hellenic Navy are cooperating closely on matters concerning the security of the broader Mediterranean region, with the flagship of the French Navy, the aircraft carrier Charles DeGaulle occasionally paying visits to Greece's Souda Bay Naval Base, the only deep-sea port capable of supporting the largest aircraft carriers in the entire region.

Greece – France: Alliance[edit]

The slogan "Greece-France: Alliance", traces its roots back to the political and diplomatic support aid France provided to Greece at the time of its return to democracy in 1974,[4][5] and nowadays is often used to denote the deep historical, cultural and political relations and close diplomatic cooperation between the two countries.[6][7][8][9][10]

Notable Visits[edit]

  • 1963; State Visit of President of the French Republic Mr. Charles de Gaulle to Athens.
  • 1975; Official Visit of the French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing to Greece.
  • 1979; Second visit of the French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing to Athens.
  • 1982; Official Visit of President of the French Republic Mr. Francois Mitterrand to Athens.
  • November 2000; Official visit of President of the French Republic Mr. Jacques Chirac to Athens.
  • April 2003; Official visit of President of the French Republic Mr. Jacques Chirac to Thessalonica.
  • June 2008; Official Visit of President of the French Republic Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy to Athens.
  • February 2013; Official Visit of President of the French Republic Mr. Francois Hollande to Athens.
  • October 2015; State visit of President of the French Republic Mr. Francois Hollande to Greece.

Resident diplomatic missions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "france 24 - Greece hails 'special relationship' with France on Hollande visit - France 24". France 24. Retrieved 8 April 2016. 
  2. ^ "Hollande-Tsípras, une relation particulière". Libé Retrieved 8 April 2016. 
  3. ^ "Egypt, Greece to launch 'Medusa 2016' joint military exercises". EconomyWatch. Retrieved 23 May 2017. 
  4. ^ The French Ministry of Foreign affairs. "France and Greece". France Diplomatie :: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development. Retrieved 8 April 2016. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Victor. "GRÈCE FRANCE ALLIANCE". Retrieved 8 April 2016. 
  7. ^ "«Grèce-France-Alliance» ! Aux privatisations…, par Foivos Marias". initiative des étudiant-e-s et travailleurs-euses grec-que-s à paris. Retrieved 8 April 2016. 
  8. ^ "President Sarkozy Calls for 'New France-Greece' Alliance". Retrieved 8 April 2016. 
  9. ^ "Greece and France in bilateral cultural alliance - Life -". Retrieved 8 April 2016. 
  10. ^ Λακόπουλος Γιώργος, Τα Νέα Οnline (16 February 2013). "50 χρόνια Ελλάς - Γαλλία συμμαχία". Τα Νέα Οnline. Retrieved 8 April 2016. 
  11. ^ Embassy of France in Greece (in French and Greek)
  12. ^ Embassy of Greece in France (in French and Greek)

External links[edit]