French President Francois Hollande has approved holding secret meetings in Paris to discuss the eurozone crisis, particularly the consequences of a Greek exit from the eurozone. On 18 May, Hollande directed Prime Minister (PM) Jean-Marc Ayrault to set up a meeting at the Office of the President (the Elysee) for the following week. Hollande, Ayrault, and “appropriate ministers” would attend, and special emphasis would be given to consequences for the French economy in general and for French banks in particular. Hollande stressed that the meeting would be secret. (COMMENT: The French president seems worried that if word were to get out that Paris is seriously considering the possibility of a Greek exit, it would deepen the crisis.) In addition, secret meetings are to be held in Paris between French officlans and members of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). Hollande assured the PM that hosting the meeting at the Elysee was “doable,” although Ayrault warned the president to keep the event a secret so as to avoid diplomatic problems. (COMMENT: By “diplomatic problems,” Ayrault is referring to what could happen if German Chancellor Angela Merkel finds out that Hollande is going behind her back to meet with the German opposition.)
Earlier reporting reveals that following talks last week in Berlin with Merkel, Hollande complained that nothing of substance was achieved; it was purely for show. Hollande had found the chancellor fixated on the Fiscal Pact and above all on Greece, on which he claimed she had given up and was unwilling to budge. This made Hollande very worried for Greece and the Greek people, who might react by voting for an extremist party. After meeting Merkel, the French president contacted SPD Chairman Sigmair Gabriel and invited him to Paris so that they could talk.
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