Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras enlisted the aid of a Greek proverb as he welcomed former French president Francois Hollande at the Maximos Mansion on Friday, noting that "real friends show themselves when things get tough".

"I am very happy to once again see a good and also personal friend, but chiefly a friend of Greece...You were a true friend of Greece in difficult times," Tsipras said.

"I am also happy that today we will have an opportunity to talk with the former president of the French Republic about the very interesting developments that concern the future of Europe," the prime minister added. He said that Hollande was a politician that was "constantly alert" and had a strong social and pro-European stigma in his ideas.

"Today we must determine the actions necessary so that our common, European edifice is able to provide answers to the great demand to strengthen social cohesion but also to provide answers on how to stop euroskepticism and far-right populism, that today pose a very great risk," Tsipras added.

Replying, Hollande congratulated Tsipras on everything he had achieved for his country and harked back to their interaction in the summer of 2015, noting that Tsipras had faced a great challenge in order to succeed in getting an assistance programme under the "pressures Greece was subjected to at that time."

"Afterwards you got through all the difficult points and succeeded in getting good results for Greece. Europe is now faced with other problems, not that of Greece. Today the new issue concerns the future of Europe and the Left has a responsibility to fulfill. Europe must progress and some countries, France but also Greece, must move faster," he said.

Otherwise, Hollande noted, Europe could stay trapped for some time and this was something that the leftists and progressive did not want: "The danger for the people of Europe is that they may grow apart from Europe," he said.