Greece ( Greek Ελλάδα [ ɛˈlaða ], Elláda , formally Ελλάς, Ellás ' Hellas '; official full form Ελληνική Δημοκρατία, Ellinikí Dimokratía , Hellenic Republic ') is a state in southeastern Europe and a Mediterranean country . The Greek national territory borders on Albania , North Macedonia , Bulgaria and Turkey . Greece is a parliamentary republic with presidential elements; the executive rests with the government, and to a lesser extent with the president . The capital of the country is Athens . Other major cities are Thessaloniki , Patras , Heraklion and Piraeus .
The Ancient Greece is known as an early European high culture, the important achievements such as the Athenian democracy and philosophy , early science and the classical Greek architecture brought forth. After the end of antiquity and the merging of various great empires such as Byzantium and the Ottoman Empire , a Greek state could only be formed again in the 19th century in the course of the Greek Revolution and the subsequent independence from the Ottomans. Today's parliamentary presidential democracy goes back to the referendum in December 1974 on the abolition of the monarchy and the introduction of a republic.
Greece is a member of the United Nations , the OECD , NATO (since 1952), the OSCE and the Council of Europe . In 1981 Greece was admitted to the European Community . On January 1, 2001, Greece joined the euro area .
As measured by the Human Development Index (HDI), Greece is one of the very highly developed countries . The tourism and trade sectors are particularly important economically. The manufacturing sector (as of 2015) is of little importance compared to other highly developed countries. The food industry and metal processing have a significant share in the industrial sector. After a long recession or stagnation of the economy since 2008, the economy has been recovering since 2017; Greece's unemployment rate is the highest in the European Union.
Concept and designation
The Greeks of modern times call themselves Hellenes ( Greek Έλληνες , Ellines ), but they have had numerous different names over the course of history. Homer (8th century BC) did not use the term "Hellene" in his epics. Even in classical antiquity, the Hellenes hardly placed any value on presenting themselves as a unified nation. Instead, with only a few exceptions, the focus was on one's own homeland, be it a polis or a kingdom. So were z. B. the soldiers who fell at Thermopylae are called Hellenes . The participants in the Olympic Games were also grouped together as Hellenes. Perhaps that is why this term became a synonym for paganism later in the first centuries of Christianity . From late antiquity to the end of the Middle Ages (1453) the Greeks called themselves Rhōmaioi ( ancient Greek Ῥωμαῖοι , Roman '). A wide variety of historical developments influenced their self-designation. These varying names were either completely new or had been used before and had been forgotten. They were significant in their respective times and can now be viewed as interchangeable, which means that the Greeks have multiple names .
In most European languages and those languages that have adopted their names, the name for Greece begins with the letters gr. The origin of all these names lies in the Latin term Graecus, which in turn has its origin in the Greek Graikos (Γραικός), the name of a Boeotian tribe that settled in the 8th century BC. In Italy and by whose name the Hellenes became known in the west . In the Iliad, Homer mentions the Boeotian city of Graia (Γραῖα); According to Pausanias , this was the ancient name of Tanagra . Kyme , a city south of Rome and northwest of Naples , was founded by Greeks from the cities of Chalkis and Graia. The contact between the latter and the Romans could give rise to the term Graeci as a collective term for all Hellenes.
In contrast, the Persian and Turkish names used by the Greeks, Yunan, as well as those of most other Middle Eastern languages, originally go back to ancient Persian Yauna , which in turn is borrowed from the Greek Íōnes ( Ἴωνες ). It was named after the Greek tribe of the Ionians , whose cities were founded in the sixth century BC. Were conquered by the Persians and their name, similar to the name of the Graeci in the west, was related to the entirety of the Hellenes.
Greece is located on the eastern Mediterranean in southern Europe and is geographically composed of mainland Greece at the southern end of the Balkans , the Peloponnese peninsula , which was separated from the mainland by the construction of the Corinth Canal (inaugurated in 1893), as well as numerous islands, mainly in the Aegean , the Ionian and also in the Libyan Sea . The political border to the north is formed by the states of Albania (282 km), North Macedonia (228 km) and Bulgaria (494 km) as well as Turkey (206 km) to the east . The Ionian Sea in the west of the country forms a natural border with the Italian peninsula and Sicily, and the Libyan Sea in the extreme south with the African continent. The island of Gavdos in the Libyan Sea is the southernmost point of the country and is also geographically the southernmost point of Europe .
The country has a total area of 131,957 km²: 106,915 km² are on the mainland, 25,042 km² (almost 19%) are spread over 3,054 islands, 87 of which are inhabited. Due to the wealth of islands, Greece has a remarkable coastline of 13,676 km, of which about 4,000 km are on the Greek mainland. The sometimes quite large distances within the country represent a further geographical feature in relation to its relatively small total area. The air line between the island of Othoni near Corfu and the island of Kastelorizo in the extreme southeast of Greece is 983 km. The smallest geographical extent - with less than 550 km as the crow flies - has the country in an east-west direction.
Despite its strong maritime character, Greece has a mountain share of 77.9% and is therefore classified as a mountainous country . The central mountains and mountain ranges of the country are the Pindos Mountains , the Olymp - Ossa - Pelion Mountains and the Rhodope Mountains on the Greek mainland, the Taygetos Mountains on the Peloponnese peninsula and the Ida and Psiloritis Mountains on the island of Crete. The highest point in the country is the Mytikas (2917 m) in the mountain range of Olympus. Larger economically usable levels are only sparsely available and are mainly located in the regions of Thessaly , Macedonia and Thrace .
Larger rivers that carry water all year round are mainly found in the north of mainland Greece, where they are used to irrigate the fertile valleys and to generate a small amount of energy. Including the Pinios , Axios , Strymonas , Nestos and Evros. In the south of Greece, most rivers only carry water seasonally, but can turn into torrential rivers in the rainy season. The Kifisos flows through Attica . Today's border river Evros was once used for inland navigation . Northern Greece is located in the Blue Heart of Europe .
The Greek lake landscape is little known and about half consists of natural lakes and more recent reservoirs. The Lake Trichonida in Etoloakarnania and covers an area of 96 a depth of 57 m and is thus one of the three largest natural lakes in Greece. The surrounding eucalyptus and olive groves are habitat for over 140 species of birds, the lake itself for some rare fish species. Also in Aetolia-Acarnania is the 92 km² Kremasta reservoir , which is mainly fed by the Acheloos .
Greece has a predominantly Mediterranean climate with mild, humid winters and hot, dry summers. On the coast it is very mild in winter and it rains frequently; Snow rarely falls. Summers are relatively hot and there are only occasional summer thunderstorms. In 1977, the continental European heat record was measured in Greece at 48 °.
In the interior of the country it is significantly cooler, especially in winter, and there is often night frost, sometimes heavy snowfall. Spring is short, but spoils "with a firework of lavender and anemones, poppy and chamomile". In summer it is hot and dry, similar to the coast. The annual rainfall varies between 400 and 1000 mm. Since Greece is very mountainous, winter sports are quite possible, there are 19 winter sports areas of different sizes. A small part of the northwest of the mainland is in the temperate climate zone .
Flora and fauna
Flora and fauna are culturally closely related to ancient myths, but less often to the main deities. Chloris was the goddess of flowers who made the plants sprout for Hera , and nymphs were responsible for the life of the plants. The shepherd god Pan was also considered the god of the forest and nature. In Greek mythology, gods often take the form of natural phenomena or animals. The prefix bio - comes from the Greek word bios for life.
Forests were cleared in ancient times . The wood was used for cooking, heating, construction, or shipbuilding; the cleared areas were used as arable land or pasture land. In 2005 there were 3,752,000 hectares of forest and 2,780,000 hectares of other forested areas. Around 80% of the forest is state-owned. Hard foliage plants (erica, strawberry tree, real laurel, carob tree) grow where there is no more agriculture today. Due to the mountainous structure, numerous slopes have become bare due to soil erosion . Nevertheless, Greece is one of the most biodiverse countries in Europe and in terms of the variety of medicinal plants it is only surpassed by Madagascar worldwide. The reason for this are the numerous islands and remote valleys. In total, Natura 2000 lists '241 habitats of importance for the community' (SCI) and 202 special protection zones (SPA). Of the 5500-6000 plant species and subspecies in Greece, 20% are endemic, the high number of species also includes an above-average proportion of medicinal plants. They once formed the basis for a pronounced folk medicine, but also for the Asklepiaden . The majority of the vegetation is made up of evergreen plants (broad-leaved, sclerophyllus (hard-leaved)).
The culturally and economically important olive tree grows on trees, as well as pines, Aleppo pines, cypresses, fruit trees and palm trees on coastal regions. Chestnuts, elms and oaks can be found from a height of 1000 m, black pines and Apollo fir trees up to 2000 m, and alpine meadows above the tree line. The Kefalonian fir is one of the endemic trees .
The country is also so rich in species due to the great climatic differences between the mountains and the coasts and the mild climate. A large part of the very small-scale habitats is difficult to access and therefore protected from human influences such as settlement or tourism. There are over 900 species of animals, including geckos, lizards (e.g. the green lizard), the Greek tortoise , in the mountains also deer, wild boars and foxes, and occasionally wolves and bears. The fauna of the islands differs significantly from that of the mainland. Regionally there are z. B. the loggerhead turtle on Zakynthos as well as one of the endemic species the Cretan wild goat on Crete. The rare Russian bear butterfly species can be found in the butterfly valley on Rhodes . Lagoon and wetland areas lead to an abundance of bird species. There are 36 of the 38 European species; 23 of them breed in the area.
The native flora and fauna are protected in ten national parks and two marine national parks. Greece has shares in the European Green Belt .
The Greek term for hunter (Kynigós) is derived from the ancient Greek word Kyôn (Gen. Kynós ) for dog, there was already a large number of dogs in Greece in ancient times. From Xenophon writing is Kynegetikós ( book on hunting ) narrated the capabilities and benefits describes the dog especially for hunting. There are only a few Greek dog breeds, for example the Hellinikos Ichnilatis and the Kritos Lagonikos .
As a maritime nation and a country with a large coastline, Greece has always been both a country of emigration and a destination for immigrants . In addition to the Christian-Orthodox, Greek-speaking majority population, there are some religious and linguistic minorities as well as immigrant groups . Since Greece does not statistically record such population groups, all information on the number of its members is based on estimates and can vary widely depending on political positions. An especially economically significant minority are the around 500,000 Albanians, the number of whom has fallen significantly since the beginning of the financial crisis, as many Albanian migrant workers are returning to Albania. A distinction must be made between the newly immigrated Albanians and the Arvanites of Albanian origin who came to Greece centuries ago or whose settlement areas were integrated into the modern Greek state, now largely assimilated. It is estimated that up to 1.6 million Greeks have Arvanite ancestors, but this is highly controversial and cannot be proven. The birth rate was one of the lowest in the world between 2010 and 2015, at 1.3 children per woman. Life expectancy was 80.7 years (men: 78.0, women 83.3). The Greek population is already one of the oldest in the world and will continue to age.
Languages and ethnicities
97.4% of the Greek population speak the modern Greek language . Since the Greek state regards all citizens as Greeks , no information is collected on linguistic minorities. The following figures come from information provided by the Greek state to the European institutions or their own estimates. Estimates by various minority organizations are often much higher; How actively the respective language is still spoken has not been adequately researched.
|Ethnic group||Relatives||Quota||different estimates||Languages)|
|Macedonians||40,000||0.4%||120,000-150,000||Macedonian , Aegean Macedonian|
|Çamen and Arvanites||23,000||0.2%||150,000-200,000||Albanian , Arvanitika|
|Sarakatsans||10,000||0.1%||Modern Greek : Sarakatsan|
|Jews||6,000||Ladino (also Greek)|
|Sum of the minorities||279,000||2.6%|
The dialects of Turkish in the Balkans (the former Rumelian part of the Ottoman Empire) are divided into Western Rumelian, which was spoken in Macedonia and the present-day successor states of Yugoslavia , and Eastern Rumelian in Eastern Thrace . The dialect of most of the Turks in what is now western Thrace in Greece occupies a special position between the two.
The last state figure for the spread of Macedonian was published by Greece after the 1951 census, which showed 41,017 "Slavophone Greeks". However, due to the strong public repression of Macedonian, this number is considered far too low. Linguistically, there is a dialect continuum between the Macedonian and Bulgarian dialects. For the language of the minority, terms such as Slavo Macedonian, Slavic, Entopia (the latter means something like 'local dialect') and, before the dispute over the name Macedonia, also Macedonite, are used. Macedonian dialects are spoken in the area of Greece (mainly in Western Macedonia , especially in the Florina prefecture ). The dialects in Greece mainly belong to the central and southeastern dialect group, from the dialects of the latter a written language called Aegean-Macedonian developed in the 19th century , which was written with the Greek alphabet .
Aromanian is a language closely related to Romanian. It is spoken mainly in the area of the administrative region of Thessaly in central Greece by the Aromanian group (mostly called Wlachen in Greek). Their number has been estimated at around 100,000 active and 300,000 passive speakers. The number of speakers is constantly decreasing, especially among children.
The Pomak language is spoken in Greece mainly in the prefectures of Xanthi , Rodopi and Evros . The Pomaks speak the respective Bulgarian dialects of the area in which they live; the Pomaks of Western Thrace are classified as a Thracian group of the Eastern Rhodope dialects. In contrast to the roughly 250,000 Pomaks in Bulgaria, the connection to the Bulgarian written language is relatively low in Greece, and no separate literature has developed.
The Western Armenian came at the time of the Ottoman Empire from Anatolia to Greece, the former presence of Armenians in Greece is still in many place names (. Eg Armeni Αρμένι) present. There are larger Armenian communities in Athens and Thessaloniki. The Armenians received Greek citizenship in 1968.
Albanian or Arvanite has been present in what is now Greece since late Byzantine times. The first and main wave of immigration took place at the invitation of the local rulers from the 13th and then BC. a. in the 14th and up to the 15th century. Since then, the Arvanites have settled in around 300 places in southern Greece. So in Boeotia, in Attica bordering it to the east (the area around Athens), on some Aegean islands (including Euboea, Hydra) and on the Peloponnese. The Albanian-speaking parts of the population in Greece are not a uniform group in terms of history, language and consciousness. In this respect, their name as "Arvanites", which is customary in Greek, is misleading. International science therefore only refers to the relatives of the descendants of immigrants from the southern Albanian area as "Arvanites". As a self-name, they sometimes use an earlier all-Albanian ethnonym, arbërorë. The language is then called arbërisht accordingly. The majority have now adopted the Greek terms αρβανίτικα ( arvanítika , Arvanitisch ')in their own language.
Albanian is spoken mainly in the Epirus administrative district in northwestern Greece and by isolated populations in the rest of the country. A distinction is made between the standard Albanian speaking Çamen , who mainly settled in Epirus and were almost completely expelled to Albania in 1945 as “collaborators” with the occupying powers, and the Greek Orthodox Arvanites scattered all over central and southern Greece . Arvanitic has retained certain archaic features of Albanian and its vocabulary is so strongly influenced by modern Greek that it is no longer understandable for speakers of standard Albanian from Albania . While the maintenance of Vlachian and Arvanitic traditions and folklore continues to be given a lot of attention, the number of active speakers of the corresponding dialects is constantly decreasing due to generations. The number of Arvanites is now often estimated at 150,000 - 200,000 according to the criteria of language use or awareness.
The Roma resident in Greece speak a dialect of Romani that is widespread throughout the Balkans . In addition to the Muslim Roma, there are also numerous Christian Roma (referred to as αθίγγανοι, athíngani , or τσιγγάνοι, tsingáni ) resident throughout Greece, some of whom are assimilated by the majority population, but in some cases also live under conditions of extreme social segregation , which as a rule goes hand in hand with the degree of their recognizability as Roma.
Meglenorumänisch , spoken by the group of megleno-romanians (in Greek usually as Wlachoi (Vlachs) called), mainly in the border area with the Republic of Northern Macedonia, in Meglen Valley. There are a few thousand speakers. The number of the meglenoromanian-speaking population is rapidly decreasing.
Ladino , the language of the Jews on the Iberian Peninsula, came to the Ottoman Empire with refugees from the 15th century and was spoken in many cities of today's Greece. Today it is only present in small remnants in Greece.
Since the 1990s Greece has developed from an emigration to an immigration country. The immigrants come from countries with a Greek diaspora (such as the former CIS states ), from south-east European nations (especially the neighboring countries) as well as from North Africa and Asia.
According to data from the 2001 census (excluding Greek and naturalized immigrants), the largest groups of immigrants living in Greece were:
An estimated 300,000 illegal immigrants also live in the country, including people from Afghanistan , Iraq and the Maghreb ; In December 2010 it became known that Greece wanted to erect a kind of border fence on the part of the border with Turkey that is not bordered by the river or the sea in order to limit further illegal border crossings. In 2015, the number of illegal immigration by boat increased; is affected u. a. the island of Lesbos, just nine kilometers from the Turkish western border .
As in Ireland , Poland or Croatia , religious affiliation played a significant role as a means of identification in the formation of the Greek nation. Strong commitment to religious rites is therefore widespread among the Orthodox population. Greece is quite religiously uniform. The Orthodox Christianity is constitutionally state religion (literally predominant religion); Greece is the only state in the world that has declared this denomination of Christianity the state religion. According to the 2018 Eurobarometer , around 96 percent of the population profess the Orthodox faith and 1.2% consider themselves atheists and 1.7% as non-denominational or agnostic .
Most of the Greeks belong to the autocephalous Orthodox Archdiocese of Greece based in Athens. Believers in Crete, the Dodecanese and in most of the monasteries of the autonomous monastic republic of Athos on the eastern tip of the Chalkidiki peninsula belong to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople , based in Istanbul . The so-called “New Lands” (areas in Northern Greece and the Aegean Sea acquired after 1913) are under the patriarchal act of 1928 under the administration of the Church of Greece, but spiritually they are under Constantinople.
Other Christian denominations include around 121,000 Catholic Christians of the Greek and Latin rites, as well as around 50,000 Jehovah's Witnesses and around 30,000 Protestant (mostly evangelical ) Christians of various backgrounds.
The Muslim population of Greece is composed on the one hand of Turks , Pomaks and Roma as citizens of Greece and, for the most part, of immigrants, for example from Albania and Pakistan . After the population swap of 1923, the number of Muslims had fallen below 100,000. Today, the number of autochthonous Muslims in Greece living mainly in Thrace is estimated at 140,000 to 150,000. There are no reliable official figures for the number of Muslim immigrants; estimates by non-governmental organizations put the number at 500,000 to 700,000. As Greek Muslims in the narrow sense on the one hand those descendants are the converted to Islam Greeks in the Ottoman Empire which have in the wake of the Treaty of Lausanne were almost completely evacuated to Turkey and on the other hand, the ethnic Greeks who converted in modern times to Islam are.
The Judaism can be up to the 3rd century BC in Greece continuity. Look back. The probably oldest ruin of a synagogue building was excavated on Delos and dated 150 to 200 BC. Dated. The oldest synagogue in operation is the Kahal Shalom Synagogue from 1577 on Rhodes. In 1920 there were 24 Jewish communities, and Thessaloniki alone had 40 synagogues. Of the 77,000 Jews who lived in Greece in 1940, 55,000 lived in Thessaloniki ( Sephardim ), so despite spectacular rescue operations such as that of Archbishop Damaskinos or that of the citizens of Zakynthos, only 14% survived the Holocaust. Today around 5000 Jews live in Greece. Many Greek Jews marry Christians, which contributes to the shrinking of Judaism.
According to a representative survey by the Eurobarometer in 2005, 81% of people in Greece believed in God , 16% believed in another spiritual force . 3% percent of the respondents believed neither in a god nor in any other spiritual force.
From ancient times to the Greek Revolution
The ancient Greece , which over the territory of the present state of Asia Minor submitted is as the cradle of Europe , particulary due to civilizational achievements in fields of philosophy , science, history and literature. 146 BC The area of today's Greece became a Roman province, after the division of the empire in 395 it was part of the Eastern Roman Empire, from which the Byzantine Empire, dominated by Greek language and culture, emerged .
After the conquest of Constantinople by the Crusaders in the Fourth Crusade (1204), the power of the Byzantine state was broken, the area split into successor states such as the Kingdom of Thessaloniki , the Principality of Achaia and a few others, as well as several Byzantine Greek states, including the despotate of Epirus in Europe and the Nikaia Empire in Asia Minor. Some areas became colonies of the Republic of Venice , later also Genoa and the Order of St. John .
With the reconquest of Constantinople by the nikaiischen Emperor Michael VIII. In 1261, the dynasty founded Palaiologoi the Byzantine Empire again, but could only part of Greece conquered and lost some territory to the Serbian Empire, under Stefan Uroš IV. Dušan in 1350 its largest expansion reached, as well as all of Asia Minor.
Favored by the weakness of the Byzantine Empire, troops of the Ottoman Empire were able to conquer most of Greece between 1359 and 1451. With the fall of Mistras in 1460, the last independent Greek rule in what is now Greece was conquered by the Ottomans. In the centuries that followed, the Ottomans expanded their state to include all of Greek territory with the exception of the Ionian Islands .
In 1821 there was the so-called Greek Revolution , the intellectual pioneers of which were a group around Rigas Velestinlis and the Filiki Eteria . In the battle of Navarino in 1827 a European naval force succeeded in gaining the upper hand over the Ottoman fleet. In 1827 the first Greek government was formed, which made the island city of Aegina its capital. In 1829 the government moved to Nafplio in the Peloponnese. By the London Protocol of February 3, 1830, recognized by the Ottoman Empire on April 24, Central Greece, the Peloponnese and the Cyclades were declared an independent state of Greece.
From independence to World War II
In 1828 Ioannis Kapodistrias was the first head of state of Greece liberated from the Ottoman Empire by the Greek War of Independence . In order to prevent the spark of republicanism from spreading in Europe, the great European powers established an external monarchy in Greece. England, France and Russia had made this the terms of payment for loans of 472,000 British pounds and 60 million drachmas to the country, which had been completely over-indebted since 1826. In 1832 the Bavarian Prince Otto, son of King Ludwig I of Bavaria , became the first king of Greece as Otto I. However, this only included the smaller part of today's national territory . Otto's reign ended in a bloodless uprising in 1862. George I was elected as his successor on March 30, 1863 by the Greek National Assembly with the consent of the great powers . In 1864 the Ionian Islands joined the Greek state, in 1881 the Ottoman Empire had to cede Thessaly to Greece in accordance with the decisions of the Berlin Congress of 1881 , and Crete declared its union with Greece in 1908, but this was only done by Greece in October 1912 and then in 1913 Balkan Wars was recognized by the great powers. Most of the islands, as well as Epirus in the north and Macedonia (with Thessaloniki ) in the northeast, only went to Greece as a result of the two Balkan Wars in 1912 and 1913. The weakened Ottoman Empire could no longer assert itself there against the Greeks, who were allied with Serbia and temporarily Bulgaria . In 1913 Constantine I became king after the murder of his father.
In World War I, Greece initially remained neutral. After the forced abdication of King Constantine I by the Allies, it entered the war against the Central Powers and their allies, particularly Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire. After the war, an attempt was made to use with the approval of the victorious powers, the defeat of the Ottoman Empire to other than the result obtained by Bulgaria Western Thrace and Eastern Thrace and the majority of Greeks inhabited the area around Smyrna (today Izmir ) bring under Greek control. The aim was the implementation of the Megali Idea (the "Big Idea"), which the then Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos with the expression "Greece of two continents and five seas" (meaning the Aegean Sea , the actual Mediterranean Sea , Marmara Sea , Black Sea , Ionian Sea) ) - i.e. the re-establishment of the Byzantine Empire with Constantinople as its capital - was concretized as a foreign policy goal. In 1922 the Greco-Turkish War ended with a clear Greek defeat (“Asia Minor Catastrophe”). In the Treaty of Lausanne 1923, an exchange of population was agreed: All Greeks still living scattered in large parts of Turkey (with the exception of the Constantinople Greeks and some island Greeks) were expelled to Greece (around 1.5 million people), in return, around 500,000 mostly had to Turkish Muslims leave Greece, with the exception of Muslims in Thrace. The population of Athens multiplied in a very short time.
Since 1922, military coups have taken place several times, starting with a revolt against King Constantine I. The uprisings ultimately led to an internal destabilization of the country. In 1924, the abolition of the monarchy was decided in a referendum. From 1925 to 1926 General Theodoros Pangalos ruled as a dictator.
During the Second World War, Greece under the dictator General Metaxas rejected an Italian ultimatum to surrender on October 28, 1940 (the day of rejection, the "no day", is celebrated today as a national holiday alongside March 25, which is reminiscent of the Greek Revolution , since Metaxas is said to have sent a telegram to Italy with only the word Όχι , i.e. no ). Thereupon Greece was attacked by Italy , but was able to beat the numerically superior Italian troops and push them back far beyond the Albanian border. The Greek resistance was only broken by the military intervention of the German Wehrmacht in April and May 1941 via Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. Italy, Germany and Bulgaria established a tough occupation regime. For example, the forced export of almost all of Greek production resulted in a positive trade balance with the German Reich of 71 million Reichsmarks, which were then offset against extreme occupation costs ( renamed "construction costs" at Hitler's request ). Of all the occupied countries, Greece had to pay the highest per capita occupation costs. In order to withdraw more material assets from the population, the banknote circulation was increased. The economic collapse was foreseeable and was accepted. The lack of food in particular led to a famine and an infant mortality rate of 80%. Of 300 children examined in Athens in October 1944, 290 had tuberculosis.
The occupying powers repeatedly cracked down on the partisan movement , which was soon to gain strength , with brutal war crimes : In various places, including Kalavrita and Distomo , the entire village population was murdered by the armed forces or "special units" as "retaliation" for partisan attacks. The question of compensation from the German side for these actions is still the subject of political discussion today. Forced labor was introduced for Jews by the occupying powers in 1942 ; from the beginning of 1943 they were ghettoized, expropriated and mainly deported to Auschwitz and Treblinka , where they were immediately murdered. About 80,000 people fell victim to the “ Final Solution ”.
The armed resistance came mainly from the communist- influenced People's Liberation Army ELAS . There were also the rival republican, later royalist partisans of the EDES , who collaborated with the Wehrmacht in the fight against ELAS from the end of 1943 (purchase of weapons and equipment), but were supported by Great Britain in the battle for Athens . At the end of 1944 the EDES disbanded informally after heavy losses. After British military intervention on December 5, 1944, ELAS was disarmed and demobilized in accordance with the Varkiza Agreement of February 12, 1945.
A total of around 70,000 to 80,000 Greeks were killed in partisan warfare or in retaliatory actions by German, Italian and Bulgarian troops. If you add the Second World War and the civil war as a result, Greece lost almost 10% of its population.
Post-war period: civil war and Western integration
The Second World War in Greece went almost directly into the Greek Civil War after the battle between EDES and ELAS in the mountains and the Battle of Athens. The Greek right broke the Varkiza Treaty to disarm the partisans. In some parts of Greece a so-called white terror of the Greek right developed under the tolerance of the republican moderate forces, which was aimed at the predominantly (but not exclusively) communist members of the EAM and ELAS. The communist partisans, who had borne the brunt of the partisan struggle against the occupation regime of the German armed forces, went back to the guerrilla. The main supporter was Yugoslavia, and to a lesser extent Albania - the Soviet Union essentially limited itself to blocking UN intervention with its veto. The royalist resistance was mainly supported by the governments in Great Britain and the USA . In the civil war, which was waged with extreme severity by the government, also against the civilian population (including the use of napalm), the communist associations, which had gone from guerrilla warfare to open front warfare, were forced to retreat to the northwest after lengthy fighting. Before that, they brought numerous children out of the contested areas , of which the GDR took in around 1,300. The end of Yugoslavia's support in 1949 finally sealed the end of their military power.
The reason for the scant support from the real socialist "brother states" was a corresponding agreement that Stalin had concluded with Churchill in Moscow at the beginning of October 1944 on the division of the Russian-British spheres of interest in the Balkans, where the Americans do not militarily, but the British do. especially in Greece, were already represented. Churchill and Stalin had agreed an influence ratio of “90% West to 10% East” for Greece; this was later felt by many Greek communists as “Soviet treason”, as one was merely a pawn of Stalin.
In 1930 a council of states formulated that active and passive women's suffrage should apply at the local and municipal level . In April 1949 a law was passed that implemented this right to vote for women . The new constitution of January 1, 1952 explicitly emphasized the right of women to vote and be elected at the national level. Law number 2159, which guaranteed these rights, was passed by Parliament in May 1952. In the November 1952 elections, however, women were not allowed to vote despite having received the right to vote shortly before: the Liberal government argued that it was difficult to get more than a million female voters on the electoral roll and that either all women or none would vote should. A clause was inserted into the electoral law that blocked women's suffrage until the end of 1952. Universal male suffrage had been in place since 1864.
Many civil rights and freedoms remained restricted until the 1960s. Greece joined NATO in 1952 and the Balkans Pact in 1954 . With the help of the Marshall Plan and the high income from foreign tourists, the country's economy slowly recovered from the 1950s.
After the Turkish pogroms in 1955 , which were mainly directed against the Greek minority in Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara , around 100,000 Greeks living in Turkey fled to Greece and other countries. While almost 125,000 Orthodox Greeks lived as a minority in Istanbul in 1945, their number fell dramatically as a result of the 1955 pogrom. In 1999 there were still 2500 Greeks living in Turkey.
On April 21, 1967 in response to the expected victory of the socialist seized United Democratic Left ( Greek Ενιαία Δημοκρατική Αριστερά ΕΔΑ , Association of Democratic Left EDA ), in which numerous members of the illegal located KKE again found a group of right-wing officers under Georgios Papadopoulos by the so-called Colonel coup took power and established a military dictatorship . Under the military dictatorship, a Euro-Communist wing split off from the KKE under the name "KKE-Inland", which was supposed to suggest that the rump KKE, thus "KKE abroad", was controlled by Moscow. Today there is only the KKE in this form, which continues to see itself as a Marxist-Leninist party, while the successor to Eurocommunism is the SY.RIZ.A, an alliance of small left parties represented in parliament. After mass arrests, numerous mainly left-wing opposition members were imprisoned, tortured, murdered or driven into exile , including the composer Mikis Theodorakis . The junta experienced a decisive weakening on November 17, 1973 by the student uprising at the Athens Polytechnic , which was brutally suppressed using tanks and discredited the regime internally and externally. The failure of the junta's unification with the Republic of Cyprus and the invasion of Turkish troops there led in 1974 to the collapse of the military dictatorship and the return to democracy under Konstantin Karamanlis . In a referendum, the form of the republic was clearly preferred to the reintroduction of the monarchy . In June 1975 the country's new constitution was adopted. Despite its western orientation towards foreign policy, Greece was separated from the military organization of NATO from 1974 to 1980.
Greece since joining the EEC
An association agreement with the EEC had already existed since 1961 , due to the interim junta, the actual accession negotiations did not begin until July 27, 1976, so that Greece was admitted to the EEC as the 10th member on January 1, 1981. The country benefited from economic and structural aid, but in return had to drop high import tariffs, which previously protected domestic producers from foreign competition.
The disintegration of Yugoslavia also had economic consequences for Greece, especially since the transit route through the Balkans (" autoput ") for goods and people was the umbilical cord of the country to the rest of Europe. As a result, Greece opposed early recognition of the republics striving for independence, but was unable to assert itself with its stance. Furthermore, there was fear of a conflagration of political and military conflicts, which would also have consequences for Greece, such as the flow of refugees. Furthermore, a name dispute emerged with the neighboring Yugoslav republic, which claimed the name Macedonia. In 1945, post-war Yugoslavia declared the areas of southern Serbia inhabited by the majority of Slavic Macedonians to be the People's Republic of Macedonia (later: Socialist Republic of Macedonia ). The independence of this federal state under the name of Macedonia was viewed by Greece as a provocation, as it feared territorial claims to the Greek province of the same name. Greece imposed a trade embargo on the country that was later lifted. On February 12, 2019, Macedonia changed its name to North Macedonia. Greece is by far the most important investor in the Republic of North Macedonia today.
The short term of office of the New Democracy under Konstantinos Mitsotakis was followed by another PASOK government under Andreas Papandreou , which had come to a standstill because of his poor health. The lawyer Kostas Simitis took over the chairmanship of the party and the office of prime minister and initiated a departure from the traditional socialist politics of his predecessor. Foreign policy was no longer shaped by a special role for Greece, but by a strong European dimension. Numerous domestic policy reforms were carried out:
- the Kapodistrias plan reorganized the community and strengthened the importance of the regions,
- large state-run companies were privatized.
- Investments in the country's infrastructure
The policy of European orientation was essentially continued by the government of the Nea Dimokratia under Kostas Karamanlis , but did not provide any impetus of its own. After two electoral terms, there was a change of government. Under the new Prime Minister Giorgos Papandreou of PASOK, the country's over-indebtedness became apparent and led to a rapid loss of creditworthiness on the international markets, as a result of which the country ran into financial difficulties.
To deal with this, EU financial expert Loukas Papadimos was appointed Prime Minister. Antonis Samaras from Nea Dimokratia emerged victorious from the new elections and formed a coalition government with PASOK, but the left opposition also gained votes.
In the parliamentary elections on January 25, 2015, the left wing party SYRIZA won 149 out of 300 seats. Alexis Tsipras was sworn in as Prime Minister of Greece on January 26, 2015. After winning the early parliamentary elections in September 2015, Alexis Tsipras was able to form a government again.
The case law in Greece carried out by independent courts and composed here of three different types of courts together, each for the civil , the criminal and administrative law are competent jurisdiction. It is the so-called separate jurisdiction system . In addition, there are special instances of financial control and constitutional jurisdiction .
The civil courts are divided into civil courts, regional courts and higher regional courts and are responsible for all private disputes and the matters of voluntary jurisdiction assigned to them by law. The criminal courts follow the same institutional structure and also contain special criminal courts such as juvenile courts or jury courts. The judgment of the civil and criminal courts can be appealed to a court of appeal and finally to the Areopagus (Greek Άρειος Πάγος / Ários Págos). The Areopagus is the supreme court and the highest authority for civil and criminal matters. The highest authority in administrative jurisdiction is the Council of State (Greek Συμβούλιο της Επικρατείας / Symvoúlio tis Epikratías). Subordinate to him z. B. the individual administrative and higher administrative courts, which are responsible for negotiating administrative disputes.
Constitutional Affairs is the so-called Supreme Tribunal (Greek. Ανώτατο Ειδικό Δικαστήριο / Anotato Idikó Dikastirio) the ultimate decision-makers. The Supreme Tribunal is responsible for reviewing the constitutionality of laws that are passed by the Parliament and working at the same time as testing Court of referendums and Elections. The audit office (Greek Ελεγκτικό Συvέδριo / Elengtikó Synédrio) is subject to financial control and, as the supreme court, is responsible for clarifying disputed financial matters.
Amnesty International and the Greek Ombudsman for Human Rights regularly point out shortcomings in the protection of human rights. In particular, the treatment of migrants and Roma families is inadequate. The Muslim minority living in Western Thrace regularly complains about a violation of minority rights. From a Greek point of view, it must not be called the “Turkish minority”, since the Lausanne Peace Treaty , which regulated the Greek-Turkish population exchange in 1923, defined the minorities religiously. The small number of Slavic-speaking citizens is not recognized as a minority.
Asylum Policy and the Refugee Situation
In terms of refugee and asylum policy, Greece is repeatedly criticized by NGOs . Above all, the large influx of refugees from African countries is causing problems for the country, which Greece can only inadequately cope with. In 2011, 55,000 refugees came to the EU through the Greek-Turkish land border on the Evros River alone . The Greek authorities are organized to either cater for newcomers or to deport them out of the public eye, so that many settle in illegal tent camps in large cities to look for work. The supply by citizens' initiatives and parishes by far does not cover the need.
In 2010, a national action plan for asylum reform and migration management was adopted, which, in addition to setting up authorities for initial reception and asylum procedure implementation, also provides for the establishment and expansion of reception facilities for migrants. In addition, the Greek government hopes that Bulgaria and Romania will soon join the Schengen area to ease the burden on their own external borders. In March 2012, only eleven people in the state authority were responsible for asylum seekers. Racism and violence against immigrants have been common in recent years, also in connection with the difficult economic situation in the country.
The Greek government repeatedly called for EU support in securing its external borders, for example by strengthening Frontex and negotiating readmission agreements between the EU and the countries of origin and transit. However, the interest on the part of unaffected EU states in facing the European refugee problem is de facto low; Criticism can often be heard from these countries that Greece does not provide enough care for the refugees.
In April 2014, Greece was criticized again by Amnesty International .
The current constitution of Greece came into force on June 11, 1975; it was revised in 1986, 2001 and 2008. It defines Greece as a parliamentary republic based on social and constitutional principles.
In the 2019 Democracy Index, Greece ranks 39th out of 167 countries, which makes it an "incomplete democracy".
The Greek President (Greek Πρόεδρος της Δημοκρατίας / Próedros tis Dimokratías) is the country's head of state and, together with the government, forms the executive branch . It is elected every five years by parliament and primarily has a representative function in everyday political life. His duties include swearing in the Prime Minister and the ministers proposed by him. The Greek President also has a general right of veto in Parliament, which can be overruled with an absolute majority of the MPs . In special circumstances the constitution allows him to dissolve parliament and call new elections . The president can dissolve the government if it applies for it or if parliament has passed a successful vote of no confidence . The overall relatively limited scope for action of the head of state is also evident from the fact that almost all of his sovereign acts have to be countersigned by the responsible minister . The President only receives extended powers in the event of an emergency . It can then legislate at the suggestion of the government . The Greek President is also Commander-in-Chief of the Greek Armed Forces , but the constitution forbids him to declare a state of defense or to conclude alliances and treaties .
In Greece, the office of President is very highly regarded by the population; this has increased since 2009 (the beginning of the sovereign debt crisis ), while confidence in politics and parties fell. The incumbent President of Greece has been Katerina Sakellaropoulou since January 2020 . She is the first Greek woman to hold this office.
The official residence of the President is the Presidential Palace (built by Ernst Ziller ) on Herodes Atticus Street in Athens. Directly opposite is the National Garden with the building of the Greek Parliament .
houses of Parliament
The Greek parliament (Greek Βουλή των Ελλήνων / Voulí ton Ellínon) consists of a chamber with 300 seats and is elected every four years by secret, general, free, equal and direct elections. Thereby 288 MPs are elected in the 56 constituencies of the country as well as 12 MPs via national party lists. A special feature of the Greek electoral system is the increased proportional representation : The party with the largest share of the vote receives 50 additional seats in parliament.
In addition to legislating, parliament has the right to withdraw confidence in the government or individual members by means of a vote of no confidence with an absolute majority and to accuse the president or members of the government with a two-thirds majority. The right of initiative of the individual parliamentarians is limited, since the government can delegate legislative competences to the parliament via legal ordinances to the government or subordinate bodies . One of the special characteristics of the Greek parliament and its constitution is that the quantitative strength of a party in the Greek parliament decides which party leader is commissioned by the president to form a government first. If he does not succeed in this, the chairman of the next smaller party receives the order. With regard to the opposition, there is - as is otherwise only the case within the European Union in Austria , Germany and Portugal - the right to set up committees of inquiry (minority quorum).
The government of Greece is known as the Council of Ministers (Greek Υπουργικό Συμβούλιο / Ypourgikó Symvoúlio) and consists of the Prime Minister (Πρωθυπουργός / Prothypourgós) and the ministers (Υπουργοί / Ypourgí). After a parliamentary election, the formation of a government begins, traditionally the party leader of the largest parliamentary group providing the prime minister. He decides on the composition of his cabinet and the state secretaries and, after the appointment by the state president and a successful vote of confidence in parliament, has the authority to issue guidelines within the government. The rights of the Prime Minister were significantly expanded in the constitutional reform of 1986, with the result that the “executive function” clearly lies with the head of government, who, despite the collegiality of the Council of Ministers, is also the constitutional center of political power in Greece. The ministers can manage their department independently, but have to accept political interventions by the prime minister, since he has the authority to issue guidelines and the right to propose the appointment and dismissal of ministers. The government can only be dismissed at its own request or after a successful parliamentary vote of no confidence .
PASOK emerged as the strongest party in the parliamentary election on October 4, 2009 , which was brought forward because of the economic crisis . Your top candidate Giorgos Papandreou was entrusted with forming a government and sworn in as Prime Minister on October 6, 2009. On November 9, 2011, he officially announced his resignation. Loukas Papadimos was sworn in on November 11, 2011 . The Cabinet Papademos was on 10 November 2011 to 16 May 2012 at office. After the general election on May 6, 2012 , no government was formed; Another parliamentary election took place on June 17, 2012 . The ND was again the strongest force with 29.7%; it received 10.8 percentage points more votes than in the election on May 6, 2012. Alexis Tsipras' SYRIZA party, which had called for an end to the austerity measures in the election campaign, was again the second strongest with 26.9 percent. Nevertheless, with ND and PASOK, the two parties achieved a parliamentary majority (162 to 138 seats) who want to stick to the austerity course and the implementation of reforms. After ND and PASOK reached an agreement with the Democratic Left to form a government ( Samaras Cabinet ), Samaras was sworn in as Greek Prime Minister on June 20, 2012. As of January 27, 2015, two days after the Greek parliamentary elections , the newly elected government from SYRIZA and ANEL under the leadership of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras ( Tsipras cabinet ) was in office. This was replaced in 2019 by the Kyriakos Mitsotakis cabinet .
|Greek Prime Minister 1990 to date|
|Konstantinos Mitsotakis (ND)||Andreas Papandreou (PASOK)||Konstantinos Simitis (PASOK)||Kostas Karamanlis (ND)||Giorgos Andrea Papandreou (PASOK)||Loukas Papadimos||Panagiotis Pikrammenos||Andonis Samaras (ND)||Alexis Tsipras (SYRIZA) |||Kyriakos Mitsotakis (ND)|
|April 11, 1990 to October 13, 1993||October 13, 1993 to January 22, 1996||January 22, 1996 to March 10, 2004||March 10, 2004 to October 6, 2009||October 6, 2009 to November 10, 2011||November 10, 2011 to May 16, 2012||May 16, 2012 to June 20, 2012||June 20, 2012 to January 25, 2015||January 26, 2015||July 8, 2019
Central issues of Greek domestic policy are the consolidation of the state budget, the fight against high unemployment, the deregulation and privatization of the public sector, the promotion of the Greek economy, the necessary restructuring of the over-indebted state pension insurance system (Greece spends almost 14 percent of the state budget on pensions and thus more than any other country), the reform of the health and education system and the fight against illegal immigration . Nationwide rioting broke out in 2008 following the death of a youth who was hit by a police officer's bullet .
After the change of government in 2009 there were protests against the austerity budget, with which the new government wants to reduce the public deficit, which is considered a difficult task due to the increased government spending by all previous governments and the widespread corruption.
The Orthodox Church exerts significant influence on the Greek education system, whereby the special position of the Greek Orthodox denomination as the “predominant religion” is specified in the Greek constitution. In the government, the Ministry of Education is traditionally also responsible for religious matters. Although the constitution does not expressly grant the Orthodox Church the status of a state church , Greece is given the status of a state church due to the close institutional ties between the state and the Orthodox church in constitutional law. B. Great Britain and Denmark , assigned to the category of states with a state church. The Orthodox Church is partly subordinate to the state, for example all bishops have to be confirmed by parliament or newly elected governments have to be sworn in by the Orthodox archbishop. The salary of Greek priests is paid by the state.
In 1982, family law was changed so that civil weddings became possible. Until then, marriage covenants that were not concluded according to the Greek Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim or Roman Catholic rites were not recognized by the state. For example, children from marriages of Protestants or Jehovah's Witnesses were considered illegitimate before the law. In addition, the obligation to marry in church was abolished and civil marriage was recognized as equivalent. In the late 1990s, the entry of religion on identity cards was abolished. In August 2008, the obligation to attend Orthodox religious instruction was lifted. Every student who does not want to take part in religious education can now receive tutoring in subjects of his choice during this time. The Greek Orthodox Church described this regulation as "wrong and unconstitutional" and at most would have approved the abolition of the religious instruction obligation for students from other countries.
In 2008, the head of the Church of Greece, Archbishop Hieronymos, voted for a review of the church statute when he was elected. In 2012, the government planned to change how clergy were paid. The state treasury should be relieved of around 100 million euros annually through greater participation by the churches in the salaries. For the approximately 20,000 priests, over 200 million euros are paid each year.
The Muslim Turks, Pomaks and Roma of Western Thrace are recognized together as a Muslim minority on the basis of the Lausanne Peace Treaty of 1923 and enjoy certain special rights, such as school lessons in Turkish , use of school books from Turkey (according to bilateral agreements), Koran schools , autonomy in Matters of family law according to Sharia etc. In the last few decades there has been an increasing assimilation of the approx. 30,000 Muslim Pomaks, who speak the Pomakic Rhodope dialect of Bulgarian , to the group of Turks. These are sharply demarcated from the very heterogeneous group of Romani and Turkish-speaking Muslim Roma.
Until the population exchange with the neighboring states Turkey and Bulgaria from 1920 to 1925 as a result of the Treaties of Neuilly (1919) and Lausanne (1923), Greece was in fact a multiethnic state . The proportion of non-Greek native speakers, which was around 15% in 1925, decreased continuously in the following decades; particularly during the occupation by the Axis powers (1941–1944) and the Greek civil war (1946–1949), members of minorities were persecuted or expelled, their quota gradually falling below five percent.
The Muslim minority formed party formations in the early 1990s. These were temporarily represented in parliament by two MPs (the Turks Sadık Ahmet and İbrahim Şerif), but this was no longer possible after the one percent hurdle was raised to a three percent hurdle. Currently, a member of the conservative People's Party Nea Dimokratia comes from the Muslim minority (the Turk İlhan Ahmet). Points of conflict with the Greek state are the currently prohibited naming of associations using the adjective “Turkish” and the concern to elect the leading Islamic legal scholars ( muftis ), who are currently appointed as public employees by the state.
Before 1990, apart from the minorities mentioned, only a few foreigners lived in Greece. Due to a less restrictive policy against immigrants, Greece has become the EU country with the most foreigners in percentage terms. The Greek state is trying to assimilate the newcomers, and the acquisition of citizenship for immigrants has been simplified several times. A five-year stay in Greece is currently required. Since 2010, citizenship has been granted automatically when you are born in Greece or when you have attended the first three years of primary school or six years of school in Greece; an application is not necessary.
Greece joined NATO in 1952 and has been a member of the European Union since 1981 . In addition, there are memberships in numerous international organizations and forums such as the United Nations , the OECD , the World Bank , the Council of Europe , the International Monetary Fund , UNESCO or, at regional level, the BSEC and the SEECP .
In the technological and scientific field, Greece supports or participates in various international projects such as B. the Large Hadron Collider ( CERN ) or the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and is a member of the European Space Agency (ESA). From 2005 to 2007 the country was represented as a non-permanent member of the World Security Council. In terms of peace policy, the country is involved in several international missions and development projects, including in Afghanistan ( ISAF ), Sudan ( UNMIS ), Georgia ( UNOMIG ), Bosnia-Herzegovina ( EUFOR ), Kosovo ( KFOR ) and Albania (NHQT) .
Foreign Minister is Nikos Dendias .
Greece in the European Union
Greece's path to the Western European structure is closely linked to the name Konstantinos Karamanlis and began on June 8, 1959 with the application of the national-radical head of government (1955–1963) for association with the European Economic Community (EEC) and the association negotiations that followed. The contract for the association of the country was signed on July 9, 1961 and led to the association of Greece with the European Economic Community on November 1, 1962. After the political turmoil in the 1960s, the following period of military dictatorship and the associated suspension of the Association Agreement from 1967 to 1974, the re-established (and elected in 1975) Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis with his newly founded Nea Dimokratia (ND) lasted on June 12 1975 the official application for the admission of the country into the European Economic Community. After the start of the accession negotiations on July 27, 1976 and the signing of the Act of Accession on May 28, 1979, Greece joined the EEC on January 1, 1981 against the wishes of its people as the tenth state, which also marked the beginning of the southern expansion of the Community. Later, during Karamanlis' tenure as President, Greece joined the Schengen Agreement on November 6, 1992, and the EC internal market (Maastricht Treaty) on January 1, 1993 , also under an ND government . The integration of the country into the now so-called European Community was completed.
Concerns of the left parties critical of the EEC and NATO, the re-admitted KKE and the newly founded PASOK in 1974, because of a possible loss of political autonomy and the competitiveness of local companies in favor of foreign corporations, were pushed aside as ideologically motivated. The fears of the largely self-employed population should, however, be reflected in the landslide-like election of the socialist PASOK (48%) under Andreas Papandreou and the communist KKE (11%) in 1981, the year of EEC accession . The policies of the new Prime Minister Papandreou often appeared to be in opposition to the policies of other EEC countries, but he nevertheless disregarded the vote of the voters and, contrary to expectations, remained in NATO and the EEC. This, the Greeks feared, would further worsen the geopolitical divide between Western and Eastern Europe in the region and isolate Greece even more from its neighbors.
With the formation of the European Community in 1993, the country experienced a destabilization of the national economy. The population's enthusiasm for Europe was therefore still limited. The main reason for this was the fact that, despite subsidized projects from the EC structural funds, the positive effects of membership were slow and invisible to large parts of the (self-employed) population. Except for a very few large companies, the development of the open domestic market had not proven to be very productive for them. Instead, their own markets were flooded with goods and services from foreign corporations, the price dumping of which the traditional Greek small business could hardly fight against. So that from 52% when joining the EEC (OECD statistics: “self-employment”), today self-employment in 2015 is only a good 30% of the employed - although still an EU record, self-employment is still not sufficient replaced with paid work.
In the euphoric expectation of the turn of the millennium and because of the 1997 honor of hosting the 2004 Olympic Games, skepticism gradually turned into an initially hesitant willingness to integrate among the Greek population since the mid-1990s. Renewed concerns of the Greek self-employed about the introduction of a common currency were discussed intensively, but - until the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2008 - membership in the EU was no longer seriously questioned. At that time Greece advocated an open Europe within the European Union . The geopolitical situation is also a motivation for all major political parties, with the exception of the KKE, to further advance European integration and justifies the interest in linking the Balkans to the EU and the support for Turkey to join the EU . Other priorities of Greek policy in the European Union are, for example, a common immigration and asylum policy or a common foreign and security policy, which should take a stronger counterweight to NATO and the USA.
Greece held the EU Council Presidency in the first half of 2003 under the Social Democratic Prime Minister Konstantinos Simitis . It was dominated by the eastward expansion of the European Union, the drafting of a constitutional treaty by the Reform Convention, and the Iraq war and its effects on the European Union. The signing of the accession treaties with the ten new EU member states on April 16, 2003 in Athens as the birthplace of democracy, which was seen as a symbolic way of setting the course for the future of Europe, is considered a historical highlight . After 1983, 1988, 1994 and 2003, Greece held the EU Council Presidency for the fifth time in 2014 - from January 1 to June 30, 2014.
From 1996, Greece under Prime Minister Konstantinos Simitis and Foreign Minister Giorgos Papandreou increasingly pursued a policy of European integration. The focus was on the one hand a stronger coordination of the Greek European policy with the policy of the European Union, on the other hand v. a. the expansion of bilateral cooperation with the states of Southeast Europe and rapprochement with Turkey .
This led to a series of confidence-building agreements with Turkey as well as a large number of bilateral and multilateral projects between Greece and the Balkan states . In 2002, the Greek Parliament ratified an aid program worth 550 million euros for south-east Europe, with the aim of supporting stability and economic reconstruction in the region.
Relations between the country and Germany have taken place almost exclusively at the state level since the 19th century. Since the revolution against the Ottoman Sultan, all "kings of the Hellenes" were exclusively members of German royal families. General relationships, on the other hand, had existed since the beginning of the 16th century due to the growing number of Greeks from abroad who had emigrated from Byzantium and their close cultural and economic ties to the old homeland. With the integration of this wave of immigration, an era developed in Germany that was later referred to as the Renaissance in art and the Enlightenment in the sciences , and which went hand in hand with the emergence of a pronounced philhellenism (e.g. foundation of the Greek community of Leipzig around 1700 ). This increased so far into Romanticism that it gave the decisive impetus to pan-European support for the educated elite for the liberation struggle of the Hellenes. The Munich Prof. Friedrich Thiersch is an outstanding German example , who, through his enormous commitment, raised financial means himself to buy Greeks sold into slavery free in Alexandria, which was then still Ottoman.
Since the end of the Second World War, there has been continuity at various levels. In 1953, Greece signed the London Debt Agreement , thereby waiving the settlement of pre-war debts by Germany and thus helping to restore Germany's creditworthiness. After 1945, Greece was the first country to invite a German Federal President while the world community held back. The invitation was presented by Ernst August von Hannover on behalf of the Greek King Paul and Theodor Heuss made his first state visit to Greece. Thousands of Athenians went to the train station where the welcoming ceremony was taking place. On his return to Germany, Heuss described the trip as a return to his own spiritual home . Foreign Minister Heinrich von Brentano took the euphoric mood as an opportunity to conclude bilateral agreements in the field of culture and education. Foreign ambassadors demonstratively stayed away from the official reception.
Relations between Greece and the countries of Southeast Europe can now be seen as largely balanced. The gradual reconciliation and the steadily improving relations with the former “archenemy” Turkey in recent years are considered to be a pioneering step. Excluding some political issues, the two states have come closer together economically and culturally. From the public side, for example, the Thessaloniki – Istanbul rail connection has been upgraded and border formalities have been simplified. Greece is now one of the biggest supporters of Turkey joining the EU . Current critical questions are the frequent violations of the Greek airspace by low-level flights by Turkish fighter jets over the Greek islands of the Aegean Sea, as well as the refugee problem, since most of the illegal immigrants are smuggled in via Turkey.
The relationship with Albania , with which the de facto state of war was only ended in 1987, is today characterized by close cooperation. Relations with Albania have been strained time and again in the past and since the fall of the Iron Curtain by a strong and uncontrolled migration of Albanian economic refugees. Contacts with Bulgaria , Romania and Serbia - which is considered a historical ally - are very good. The opening of new border crossings was agreed with Bulgaria and various infrastructure projects were started . The diplomatic relations with the northern neighbor Republic of Northern Macedonia are in development and the outlook is positive. In recent years, neighborly relations and economic cooperation between the two countries have developed to a particularly high degree.
At the political level, transatlantic relations between Greece and the United States have traditionally been good, but historically-based reservations about US foreign policy prevail in large parts of the population. The persecution of left activists immediately after the German occupiers were driven out is accused of the British and later American liberators. The passive attitude of NATO to seven-year military dictatorship and the Turkish occupation of Cyprus justified the lack of consensus between government and people, and resulted in the parliamentary elections 1981 landslide election of leftist parties and the first socialist PASOK government. However, it is thanks to the person of its chairman Andreas Papandreou, who, as the first American Prime Minister of Greece, began to carefully harmonize relations between the two states, even against his party base. Only Kostas Simitis pursued this rapprochement with NATO partners even more consistently during his tenure as Prime Minister 1996-2004, incidentally together with his Foreign Minister Giorgos Papandreou . Admittedly, the negative attitude of the Greeks towards the internationally controversial deployment in Serbia within the framework of NATO in 1999 and the refusal to participate in the 2003 military operation in Iraq led by the United States still weighed on the relationship between the two states. But at the latest with the election of the second American Giorgos Papandreou as Prime Minister of Greece shortly after his meeting with US President Barack Obama on March 9, 2009 in Washington, DC , bilateral relations had reached a high point.
Due to its geographical location, Greece generally maintains relatively good contacts with several countries in the Middle East and has made various attempts in the past to mediate in the individual crisis regions . In recent years, these relationships have been brought in to strengthen the US-led anti-terrorist coalition. For example, Greece traditionally had good contacts with the Palestinians. During the second Lebanon war between Israel and the Lebanese Hezbollah in 2006, Greece was one of the states that campaigned for an immediate ceasefire. For a long time Greece had no special political relations with Israel. This changed after the change of government at the end of 2009. Since then, relations with Israel have been intensified with the support of the opposition.
Defense Policy and Military
Greece is a member of NATO and maintains a conscription army , which is divided into the armed forces army , air force and navy . Greece spent almost 2.5 percent of its economic output or 5.1 billion dollars on its armed forces in 2017.
In Greece there is general compulsory military service for men between 18 and 45 years of age, the period of military service for conscripts is currently (2008) twelve months. Widowed fathers or older brothers who are responsible for one or more minors are exempt from military service. For Greeks from abroad who were also born abroad, the military service period is only three months. Other Greeks living abroad, immigrants with a Greek passport and siblings in a family with six or more children are entitled to a period of military service reduced to six months. For the eldest brother of three siblings, for the two eldest brothers of four siblings, and for fathers it is nine months. There is no conscription for women, but they can join the military without restrictions.
The military always played a special role, as it did in the Greek struggle for freedom, which was fought with the military support of the great powers. It took power twice in the 20th century.
With the Kallikratis Act of 2010, public responsibilities were decentralized and the structure was greatly simplified. 13 regions (Sg. Περιφέρεια periferia ) have formed the regional level since 2011. They are administered by a separate parliament and a regional president. The regions are further subdivided into a total of 325 municipalities (Sg. Δήμος dimos ), which form the municipal level, but in rural areas are more comparable to German districts. With this, the division into 54 prefectures (Sg. Νομός nomos ) , which has been practically unchanged since the founding of modern Greece, was abolished; the regions that had previously been ruled directly by the central state were given significantly more powers. The number of almost 6000 parishes up to 1997, which was reduced to 1033 by the Kapodistrias program in 1997 (2010: 1034), has again decreased to 325.
Even after Greece joined the European Economic Community in 1981, there was a decline in self-employment. Until the introduction of the euro, which replaced the Greek drachma , it had fallen from an original 52% (1981) to 35% (since 2008) of employees. Since wage-related work was not created to the same extent, large corporations that cooperated as importers with Western European partners benefited from the country's connection to the economic activities of the European industrialized nations and the newly established Cohesion Fund . Greece's accession to the euro zone in 2001 led to a series of extensive infrastructure measures. Various major events, such as the 2004 Olympic Games , temporarily stimulated the Greek economy and an economic upswing, mainly based on government contracts. With the financial crisis from 2007 and the subsequent Greek sovereign debt crisis , GDP and wages fell and the number of unemployed rose massively. Employment has fallen to around 33% of the population, making it one of the last in the EU.
The gross domestic product (GDP) in purchasing power parity (PPP, market prices) per capita was around 21,600 euros in 2008 and around $ 27,800 in 2017 = around 25,000 euros.
The disposable income has dropped from 2008 to 2013 by almost 40% (adjusted for inflation).
The tertiary sector is the largest and most important economic sector in Greece. In 2004 it generated a total of 71.4% and in 2017 around 80% of the Greek economic output, with tourism being of greater importance as a growth market (2017: revenue of $ 16.4 billion with a GDP of $ 177.7 billion).
In 2017, the unemployment rate was 21.5% (Euro area 10.0%). Youth unemployment (up to the age of 24) rose particularly sharply from 25% in May 2008 to 48.1% (2016). The stagnating domestic market (less private consumption and government investment) and lower production costs led to a stronger export orientation.
Due to its geographical location , Greece has a high potential for the use of both solar and wind energy . The share of renewable energies in Greece's energy supply is currently low, but their share is growing steadily, partly due to state subsidies. By 2020 Greece wants to cover 20% of its primary energy with renewable energies.
Greece also has significant gas and oil reserves, of which only oil and natural gas have so far been developed in the North Aegean . Three new concessions were awarded in 2012 to develop additional fields, which are primarily located in the Ionian Sea . Income of 11 to 15 billion euros is expected over a period of 15 to 25 years. However, there are also reports of significantly larger inventories, with revenues of between EUR 300 billion and EUR 465 billion.
In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, Greece ranks 87th out of 137 countries (2017-2018). In 2017, the country ranks 127th out of 180 countries in the index for economic freedom .
The primary sector (agriculture) in Greece has lost more and more importance in the past. The share of primary sector activities in the country's economic output was 6.4% in 2004 and 4% in 2017, with 12% of the workforce in agriculture in 2017. Products such as wine (→ viticulture in Greece ), tobacco and olives are preferably grown for export . The most important growing areas for wheat are the regions of Thessaly , Western Thrace , Boeotia and Macedonia . The livestock in Greece is concerned mainly with the breeding of sheep and goats . The meanwhile newly set goals to expand cattle breeding led to an increased cultivation of barley , maize and other forage crops. The soil in Greece is suitable for growing fruit and vegetables ; this is how grapefruit , soy , avocado and asparagus flourish . Due to the topographical conditions, agricultural machinery was not used for a long time. This changed with the intensification of agriculture. On the other hand, there is still the very small average acreage per farm. Due to the maritime character of the country, fishing and fish farming are assigned a special role in Greece. The contribution of the agricultural sector to Greece's exports is 22%. Since the economic crisis, the number of farmers has risen by 40,000 within two years, most of the new farmers practice organic farming or specialize in, for example, snail breeding or truffle extraction.
The country's secondary sector has been growing steadily since the mid-1990s. Its share in Greece's economic output was 22.2% in 2004 and 16% in 2017. The industrial sector in Greece is characterized by a large number of small and medium-sized companies. The most important branches of the economy are the manufacturing and construction industries. Traditionally, food , textile products , metal products , petroleum and coal products , chemicals , glass and cement , machines and, more recently, technology and telecommunications products are produced . The industrial sector contributed 59% of the country's export volume in 2004. Buying countries for Greek industrial products include Germany, Italy, Great Britain and Turkey. Since 2008, in connection with the general economic recession in the country, value added in the industrial sector has fallen significantly (as of 2015). The manufacturing industry accounted for 15% of the value added in 2015.
The share in the service sector comprised 75.9% in 2006 and 80% in 2017 with 65% of all employees. Important sectors in the service sector are tourism , trade , shipping and financial services . While trade, the tourism industry and shipping companies have always had a special position in the Greek economy, financial services only developed with the liberalization of the banking system in Greece and now play an important role in investments both in Greece and in south-eastern Europe. The Greek shipping has a very high status internationally and serves with 3,618 Greek controlled ships (over 1000 gross registered tons ) 18.6% of the worldwide shipping traffic. It shows stable growth rates even during consumer crises, Greek shipping companies have one of the largest owner fleets, but most of them are flagged on flags of convenience .
In 2008 tourism had a share of 10% of the gross domestic product . Its importance has increased, in recent years the proportion has risen to 18%. In 2014, based on the number of guests, there was a strong upturn in the international tourism business with a growth rate of 15%. The cruises also contributed to this. With over 24 million tourists, Greece was the 14th most visited country in the world in 2016. Tourism revenue for the same year was $ 14.6 billion.
|Biomass & garbage||3.8||4.2||3.7||3.4||3.9||3.4||3.3||3.8|
|2010E are estimates|
So far, Greece's energy supply has been heavily reliant on oil , coal and gas imports from Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Renewable energies as a core element of the energy transition have hardly been exhausted so far. One of the reasons is the non-working debt financing. This is made even more difficult by the fact that the Greek government has now decided on retroactive taxation of income from remuneration over a period of two years, which puts many wind and solar companies in additional financial difficulties.
The primary energy consumption in Greece was in 2010 according IEA estimated 27 Mtoe (314 TWh). 9.2 Mtoe of this were generated domestically, which corresponds to a share of 34% of total consumption. The rest was imported. Greece's energy trade balance is therefore negative (energy imports). In 2010, the major share of energy imports was accounted for by mineral oil, natural gas and hard coal at over 96%.
From November 23 to 24, 2012, 50 representatives from 15 national parliaments from the EU states, 60 further representatives from the EU parliament, business and industry as well as interest groups met in Athens to talk about renewable energies. At the meeting on "Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency - Ways out of the economic crisis!" the focus was on the expansion of renewable energies and efficiency technologies as an economic engine for Greece.
Greece's photovoltaic output rose 150 percent in 2012. Within a year, photovoltaic systems with an output of over 900 megawatts were connected to the grid. This increased the installed capacity to 1.5 gigawatts. Greece took third place worldwide in the ranking of per capita installed photovoltaic capacity, directly behind Germany and Italy. This expansion can be traced back to a feed-in tariff for photovoltaic systems in all three countries . The installed wind energy capacity was 1,980 MW at the end of 2014.
|Change in gross domestic product (GDP), real|
|in% compared to the previous year|
|Source: Eurostat website|
|Development of GDP (nominal)|
|absolute (in billion euros)||per inhabitant (in thousands of euros)|
|Source: Eurostat website, table of gross domestic product at market prices (2011–2017 provisional).|
|Development of the inflation rate|
|in% compared to the previous year|
|Source: Eurostat website; Table of harmonized index of consumer prices, annual rate of change of the annual average. Last accessed on April 2, 2016.|
From 2013 to 2015 the inflation rate was negative ( deflationary ).
|in billion euros and its change compared to the previous year in percent|
|Billion euros||% yoy||Billion euros||% yoy||Billion euros||% year-on-year|
|Export (in%) to||Import (in%) of|
|Republic of Cyprus||6.4||People's Republic of China||6.6|
|other states||55.7||other states||51.9|
In 2013, Greece recorded around 81.5 billion euros in government revenue. This contrasted with government spending of around 86.2 billion euros. The government deficit was around 4.7 billion euros or 2.6% of GDP. The state debt at the end of 2010 was 173.81% of GDP.
As a result of the international financial crisis that started in 2007, the debt of the Greek public budget rose massively. The Greek government at the time gave extensive guarantees for the banks and supported the financial institutions with new equity. These rescue packages turned the bank risks into national risks, which, according to an ECB study , led to higher risk premiums for government bonds.
A general problem in Greece, as in most EU states, is the ramified clientele policy and corruption that has been building up since the 1980s, which , according to the Bonn parliament, is fueled mainly by the corruption competition from industrialized countries, especially French and German companies, which have their Athenian lobbies adversely affected government spending, which has often been or is still affected by inefficiency. After the Corruption Perception Index ( Corruption Perceptions Index ) of Transparency International was Greece in 2017 by 176 countries, along with Jordan and Romania on the 59th place, with 48 out of a maximum 100 points.
Current macroeconomic development
Furthermore, there is an unexpectedly large shadow economy in Greece . At 3900 euros per capita per year, it is just above the EU average of 3700 euros (Germany: 4400 euros shadow economy per capita and year). Existing tax evasion is widespread. However, because of their large number - a third of all employed persons in Greece are self-employed - tax evasion per self-employed person is only low in an EU comparison. On the other hand, the number of financial servants is well below the OECD average, so that there is little control over companies. Greece has the smallest public administration in the EU (OECD 2011)
In 2007, the effective tax on income from profits and wealth in Greece was 15.9%. In Germany the rate was 24.4% and the highest in the EU is in the United Kingdom at 42.7%. In addition, the share of military spending in GDP is around 4% (= 9.5 billion euros), which is significantly higher than that of other European countries. On the other hand, Greece's per capita military expenditure of 860 euros in 2009 corresponds to the average in the euro zone.
Measured in terms of total debt in relation to gross domestic product , Greece is the most heavily indebted member state of the European Union.
|Budget balance||−4.8%||−5.6%||−7.5%||−5.2%||−5.7%||−6.5%||−9.8%||−15.7%||−10.9%||−9.6%||−8.9%||−13.2%||−3.5%||−5.7%||+ 0.5%|
|Source: Eurostat, table of gross government debt, Eurostat, table of government deficit / surplus|
Development since 2009
2009 and 2010
At the end of November 2009, the Papandreou government had to determine a looming national deficit of 12.7% (after 7.7% in 2008) of the gross domestic product . In addition, there was a threat of a debt level of 121% of gross domestic product in the 2010 budget (according to the EU convergence criteria , a maximum of 60% is allowed, which, however, was only achieved by a few EU countries from 2007 onwards under the influence of the financial crisis ). In countries like Greece, the fact that the economy is heavily indebted abroad is a further problem. On balance ( assets minus debts ), the Greek economy was in debt with around 76% of the gross domestic product abroad in 2008 (after Portugal with 99% and Spain with 81%).
At the turn of the year 2009/2010, the chairman of the EU finance ministers' council, Anders Borg , assessed the financial situation in Greece as dramatic. On February 3, 2010, the EU Commission decided to put the Greek budget under EU control . The government in Athens was required to report to Brussels on its savings every two to three months. Jean-Paul Fitoussi , economist and economic advisor to the French President, however, pointed out that Greece only makes up 3% of the euro zone.
According to a February 2010 report in the New York Times , US banks such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan have helped Greece over the past decade to hide the extent of its national debt . Newly taken out loans were booked as currency transactions. In return, expected future income, for example from airport fees and lottery winnings, was assigned. In retrospect, it turned out that Greece's accession to the euro zone in 2001 was based on embellished information from the government, in particular while concealing the high public deficit.
On April 11, 2010, the finance ministers of the Eurogroup agreed on the details of a three-year aid package: In the first year it should have a volume of 45 billion euros, two thirds will be taken over by the euro members. The German government puts the German contribution for 2010 at 8.4 billion euros. The problem of the Greek financial crisis worsened in April 2010 due to a significant rise in the price of credit default swaps (through a bulk purchase by several major banks), which serve as insurance against the default of Greek government bonds. The rating agency Standard & Poor's rated the credit rating of Greece to BB + / B, Moody's A3 and Fitch Ratings BBB- (Release 27 April 2010). On June 14, 2010, Moody's also lowered the rating for Greek government bonds to Ba1 and thus to “junk level”.
After interest rates on ten-year government bonds rose to over 8.5% in April 2010, the Greek government had to surrender on April 23, 2010 to the pressure of the financial markets and request foreign financial aid with the aim of averting bankruptcy. On the night of May 10, 2010, the EU and the IMF agreed on loans amounting to 110 billion euros to support the particularly affected European PIIGS states, including Greece. The usefulness of these measures is controversial among experts. The ECB and other EU countries also bought Greek national debts from banks and funds amounting to around 100 billion euros (until July 2011).
Measures 2010 and the development until 2015
On March 3, 2010, a decision was made to increase the value added tax to 21%, which came into effect on March 15, 2010. At the same time, all salaries of public employees were cut. This should save 4.8 billion euros annually. On May 2, 2010, the Greek government decided on a package of measures negotiated with the IMF and the EU. By 2013, among other things, by cutting administrations and reducing salaries, around 30 billion euros are to be cut: the day after, 3 people died in violent protests in downtown Athens. On May 12, 2010, Greece received the first 5.5 billion euros from the rescue package from the IMF. The big unions announce another general strike. On July 1, 2010, another VAT increase to 23% came into force, which is still in force today.
Overall, with the Greek austerity policy, government spending was initially cut by ten percent and the government budget deficit initially decreased by August 2010. In return, however, budget deficits and bankruptcies in the private sector increased, as did the number of unemployed. Investments, GDP and thus also the tax revenues based on them have declined. The yields and risk premiums on Greek government bonds rose again on the financial market, reached the level of the crisis in May at the end of 2010 / beginning of 2011 (depending on the investment) and have continued to rise since then (see chart). Since, among other things, state revenues have fallen due to high unemployment and the state has to make increased expenditure on unemployment protection at the same time, the national debt is rising even more significantly.
On March 7, 2011, the rating agency Moody's downgraded Greece's creditworthiness by three grades from “Ba1” to “B1”. On March 30, 2011, Standard & Poor's again lowered its credit rating from BB + to BB-. On May 20, 2011, Fitch's rating was lowered from BB + to B +
At the request of the EU and IMF, the Greek parliament approved the government's third cut package on June 29, 2011. By 2015, the Greek government intends to cut spending or take in additional around 78 billion euros (around 28 billion euros through cuts in benefits and tax increases, 50 billion through privatizations and the sale of state property). In 2010 and 2011 tax increases and spending cuts were made to the tune of 20 percent of economic output. From 2009 to 2013, social benefits were reduced by 26 percent. However, Fitch criticized the measures of the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as implausible and on July 13, 2011 downgraded the creditworthiness from B + to CCC. The two other rating agencies Standard & Poor's ('CCC') and Moody's (Caa1) had already reduced their rating to a comparable level in advance. The absolute low was reached on February 22, 2012: "The issuer default rating was lowered to C by CCC, which expresses the assessment that a default is very likely in the near future," said Fitch. By 2014, the ratings improved to B (S&P and Fitch) and Caa1 (Moody's). However, in the run-up to the parliamentary elections in January 2015, Greece was downgraded again, until a new negative was reached on June 29th after months of conflict between the newly elected left-wing populist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and international donors (S&P 'CCC–', Moody's 'Caa2' , Fitch 'CCC'). After negotiations on a third aid package and announced further austerity measures, Greece was upgraded again.
In the second quarter of 2014, the Greek economy grew again for the first time since 2008. This was mainly due to the strong tourism sector.
On July 1, 2015, Prime Minister Tsipras introduced capital controls with limits on transfers and cash withdrawals to prevent capital flight.
On July 3rd, Greece was declared bankrupt by the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) after default.
On August 14, the Greek parliament approved a third aid package with a volume of 84 billion euros.
Expiry of the loan programs and further development after 2018
On August 20, 2018, the last of the three international aid programs for Greece expired. The national debt was still very high at 180% of the gross domestic product.
In January 2019, Greece issued five-year government bonds for the first time since the end of the bailout programs, with an interest rate of 3.6%, the lowest level in over twelve years; in March for the first time since 2010 again long-term ten-year
After the election of the conservative-liberal Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis , the Economic Assessment Indicator (IFE) was above the average of the 19 euro countries for the first time in July 2019 and at its highest level since 2008, despite a persistently difficult economic situation with low growth prospects announced that it would bring the country to the level of an investment-worthy debtor within 18 months. He also announced tax cuts and administrative reform. The yield on ten-year government bonds fell below 2% for the first time since the introduction of the euro.
On August 26, Mitsokakis abolished the capital controls introduced in 2015.
Greece had 112.5 tons of gold reserves in June 2015. At a price of 1053 euros per troy ounce (as of June 23, 2015), these correspond to a value of around 3.8 billion euros.
In addition to the traditionally great importance of merchant shipping for the economy of Greece, passenger shipping is also of particular importance due to the long coastline and the wealth of islands.
Due to its proximity to Athens, the most important port for domestic connections is still Piraeus , but the importance of the port of Rafina , which also has expansion possibilities , is increasing . Ferry ships operate to all larger islands and from there to neighboring smaller ones. The ports of Igoumenitsa (for the west and north of the country) and Patras on the Peloponnese (for the south of the country) are important for long-distance connections to Italy .
In the area of water sports, due to the external EU border between Greece and Turkey, special framework conditions apply to traffic between the national borders of the two countries. If boats are used privately ( tourism ) to travel to the other country, they must be cleared in a port of entry there. There is a special feature for boats flying the Greek flag, as they have to leave the maritime infrastructure of the country as well as the coastal area after being declared in a Turkish port. On the other hand, some ports in Greece are also under special official surveillance due to the problem of people smuggling to Italy.
National roads are signposted in blue and in the font Transport , motorways are signposted in green and mainly in the font DIN 1451 . Motorway construction in Greece is financed through tolls, some were privately financed and will only become state property after a few decades.
While the national roads in particular had been expanded (and partially re-routed) since the 1960s, the decision was made to expand the Greek motorways from the late 1980s due to increasing motorization (until then, only a few national roads had been developed as motorways without being separately signposted become). At that time, public and cooperative transport accounted for around 70% of the total traffic. The Corinth-Athens-Thessaloniki main line was expanded to six lanes and bypassed Athens with the Attiki Odos clasp . In 2010 the Egnatia Odos (A2) was completed. The gap in the Patras-Corinth motorway (Olympia Odos) is currently being closed as a PPP project and the Ionia Odos (A5) in the west of the country.
The regional KTEL cooperatives operate a network of long-distance connections with intercity buses, as well as local transport in small towns and in the countryside.
Due to its topography (mountains and many islands), the railway network of the Greek Railway Company OSE is of far less importance than in Central Europe, for example. It consists of a regular -gauge main network, a meter-gauge network in the Peloponnese , the rack railway from Diakopto to Kalavrita with a gauge of 750 mm and the Pelion railway with a gauge of 600 mm, on which museum operations take place in two sections .
It is single-track in large sections and has been severely neglected in recent decades. In the 1990s, modernization work began, particularly on the Piraeus – Thessaloniki railway , including the modernization of the Athens train station , and in 2004 the Athens S-Bahn ( Proastiakos ) was opened. This led to a significant increase in the number of trips. On the Athens – Thessaloniki route, the train is now the fastest means of land transport.
The narrow-gauge network in the Peloponnese is in poor condition and will be replaced in stages by a regular-gauge network with a new route. The connection from Athens to Kiato has been completed, the construction of the extension to Rododafni is due to be completed by the end of 2016. The remaining parts are currently out of service.
International direct connections existed between Thessaloniki and the following cities: Belgrade , Budapest , Bucharest , Istanbul , Ljubljana , Skopje , Sofia , Svilengrad and Zagreb until they were generally discontinued in February 2011 . Since May 2014 the international direct connections from Thessaloniki to Sofia on the one hand and via Skopje to Belgrade (there connection to Budapest) on the other have been resumed. The north-western interior of the country is not served by the railway network.
The following domestic routes are currently in operation:
Of the 40 or so civil airports in Greece, about 15 offer international flight connections. The largest and most important airport is Athens-Eleftherios Venizelos Airport . In addition to Thessaloniki- Macedonia Airport, the airports of Heraklion , Rhodes , Kos , Corfu , Chania and Zakynthos Airport , which are mainly used for tourism , are of considerable importance. The Greek airlines Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines as well as numerous foreign airlines serve a dense network of connections within Greece from Athens and Thessaloniki and also fly to numerous European cities such as London, Madrid, Paris, Rome and Vienna.
Healthcare and civil protection
In the Greek health care system , similar to the UK , all Greek and foreign citizens working in Greece enjoy state insurance coverage. The doctor can choose between public service and private practice; both variants together are not possible. The supply can be divided into two categories:
The primary care of the state insurance, whereby there are unequal conditions in the medical services in cities, urban outskirts and rural districts. In urban centers, primary state medical care is significantly better than in rural areas, because there are well-organized medical centers that insured persons from all areas visit for treatment. Secondary private care commonly found in private practices, as well as in the capitals of the counties and in the cities of the larger islands. The medical care of the islands, which is used by numerous tourists, is mainly provided by individual, free practicing doctors, by private health centers with mostly very good medical equipment and by country doctors.
Sometimes, even in emergencies, it is not necessary to show the personal medical record if the patient is not being treated as an inpatient. This applies to all people who are in Greece. Due to the austerity measures, the Greeks are without health insurance after two years of unemployment.
In addition to the state-organized fire brigade, there is the Volunteer Association ( ESEPA ) comparable to the volunteer fire brigade in Germany. The low population density and the many islands have a fatal effect in forest fires in summer, which are often triggered by grossly negligent scorching of the harvested fields, favored by the hot desert winds from the Sahel zone . The Greek Air Force has the largest fleet of fire fighting aircraft in the European Union.
Culture and society
The Greek language is the oldest language spoken today recorded by a script (first the syllabary Linear B and later the full alphabet ). The modern Greek language is by far the most important spoken language in Greece and is spoken and taught in the Dimotiki version . Also of importance is ancient Greek , which is a compulsory subject in schools and (in a more recent form, the Koine ) is still used in worship in the Greek Orthodox Church. Turkish or Slavic dialects are spoken regionally by minorities . English and French are the most popular foreign languages, and Greece has also been a member of the Francophonie since 2004 . Greece has been a popular emigration destination since the 1990s and there are numerous speakers of other languages such as Albanian, Bulgarian and Russian.
Between 1955 and 1970, Greece had the highest film production worldwide in terms of population, which averaged over 100 per year. The most important film company was Finos Film , whose comedies and tragedies document a life in poverty in a cheerful way and are reminiscent of the Italian film of that time. To this day, these films have a great reputation and are mostly shown on television in the evening program.
The first two films to generate international attention were Stella in 1955, directed by Michael Cacoyannis and in 1956 The Ogre of Athens , directed by Nikos Koundouros. From the 1960s onwards, there was an increasing number of productions of the New Greek Film, an experimental direction. After the collapse of the junta dictatorship in 1974, the “New Greek Cinema” flourished. Many of the films belonging to this direction were shot illegally, either in whole or in part, during the dictatorship; most of them were political films that were smuggled abroad, such as the 1973 film Megara by Maniatis and Tsemperopoulos, which featured the resistance of the peasants in Megara against illustrates the expropriation of their land by a major banker. Other important films of the "New Greek cinema" are of 1974 turned out unimportant occasion , and in 1975 The Traveling Players by Theo Angelopoulos . The latter is also the first film in the “New Greek Cinema” to be a commercial success.
The 1964 film Alexis Sorbas played an important role in the reception of the country in the 1960s. The Greek-French film Z by Constantin Costa-Gavras (1969), which criticized the junta , had political significance . The work of director Theodoros Angelopoulos is also inspired by French . The subject of the Greek diaspora was addressed in some films by the director George Pan Cosmatos , the actor Telly Savalas , but above all the director Nia Vardalos ( My Big Fat Greek Wedding ). Giorgos Lanthimos is considered to be the most important Greek film artist of the 21st century .
The Thessaloniki International Film Festival has been held since 1960 and is the most important in the country. Associations of directors and cinema professionals organized a counter-festival in 1977 in protest against a series of changes made by the responsible ministry, such as the selection criteria for the critics' committee. This “independent festival” was not able to establish itself in the long run.
As Greek art sculpture of antiquity is understood mainly, sometimes the Ceramics. Works of art such as the early classical charioteer from Delphi , the Nike of Samothrace , but even more so the Hellenistic Venus of Milo , the Laocoon group and the group of Aphrodite, Pan and Eros have acquired archetypal symbolic character. The ancient art was replaced by the Byzantine , the painter El Greco (1541-1614) came from the sacred art of the Cretan School . The 19th century was shaped by academic art and interacted with the Munich School . Famous Greek sculptors of the 20th century include a. Jannis Kounellis , Joannis Avramidis , Aris Kalaizis and Christos Kapralos . Numerous Greek artists have their studios on the island of Andros , especially the summer on which is characterized by numerous exhibitions. Art patrons are often shipowners, like Stavros Niarchos in the past or George Economou today . The art collector Dakis Joannou and his DESTE foundation are considered to be the most important sponsors of the work of Jeff Koons. George Costakis had put together a large collection of Russian Constructivism under difficult circumstances. Iris Clert , Tériade and Christian Zervos promoted the Parisian art scene.
There are many examples of classical architecture in Greece. Buildings like the Parthenon or the theater of Epidaurus give a good impression of the quality of ancient buildings. These became the model of classicism in the 19th century, which was of great importance in Greece. Architects like Theophil Hansen or Ernst Ziller shaped the cities with large public buildings, above all the architecture of Athens . The exception is the building of Theophil Hansen's Eye Clinic in Athens, which follows a Byzantine design language and thus marked the beginning of its partial revival. Especially Thessaloniki, Athos and other monasteries, the Peloponnese (Mystras), but also Athens and the surrounding area (e.g. Dafni Monastery, Kapnikarea Church in Athens) provide numerous outstanding examples of the medieval Greek building tradition.
Greek modernism is considered to be one of the earliest in Europe. When Patroklos Karantinos , a student of Auguste Perret , organized the CIAM congress in Athens in 1933, Greece had a significant number of evidence of functionalist modernity. The Charter of Athens passed here became a beacon of modernity. In the late 1930s, there were also restorative tendencies (e.g. the construction of the Bank of Greece and the Crown Prince's Palace), but they did not develop a role model.
While Walter Gropius' building of the American embassy and Eero Saarinen's west terminal of the old Athens airport subtly fall back on proportions of antiquity, the hotel buildings such as the Hilton in Athens by Spyros Staikos, 1963 and the Porto Carras on the Chalkidiki peninsula by Walter Gropius (posthumously, Completed 1973) clearly influenced by the International Style . An exception are the numerous tourist buildings of the state building program Xenia of the 1960s under the leadership of the Greek architect Aris Konstantinidis . These modern buildings are embedded in the landscape and combine industrialized construction with local building materials and traditions. They are considered an early example of critical regionalism .
The 2004 Olympic Games brought an urban development impulse in Athens and Attica, especially the sports facilities and bridges designed by the architect Santiago Calatrava .
The architecture of the Cyclades is characterized by cubic forms, the blue-and-white, nested houses and churches of which have become the hallmark of Greece. Franconian, late Byzantine or Ottoman old towns are also of regional importance. The Ionian Islands have a Venetian character, while the Kamara House on Crete is a traditional building. Significant Gothic buildings can only be found on the Dodecanese , especially the old town of Rhodes .
In the context of the ancient Olympic Games , the Olympic movement found many followers in Greece from the start, so that Athens became the first venue in 1896 , ten years later the Olympic Intermediate Games followed as an anniversary event. The Olympic flame has been lit in Olympia since 1936 and brought to the venue in a torch relay . In 2004 the Summer Olympic Games were held in Athens for the third time .
In addition to the marathon, which according to the marathon legend goes back to the messenger Pheidippides in the 19th century , and which initiated many marathons , there is also the much less well-known Spartathlon , which also goes back to an ancient run by Pheidippides. This has been taking place regularly since 1983 and is held on the 245.3 kilometers from Athens to Sparta.
Since Greece is a mountainous country, there are also winter sports. There are 24 ski areas in Greece, which have a total of 197 kilometers of slopes and are served by 122 ski lifts. Ice rinks, on the other hand, are only available through private financing and, without exception, are not of an Olympic size, where figure skating and ice hockey are practiced. The Stadium of Peace and Friendship in Piraeus was designed for mixed use, including an ice rink, but this function has not been used since 1991.
|date||German name||Greek name||annotation|
|January 1st||New Years Day||Πρωτοχρονιά Protochroniá|
|6th January||three Kings||Θεοφάνεια Theofánia ("Appearance of the Lord"),
Φώτα or των Φώτων Fóta, ton Fóton ("Festival of Lights")
|Moving holiday ( carnival date )||" Rose Monday "||Καθαρά Δευτέρα Kathara Deftera ("Pure Monday")||Corresponds to the Catholic Ash Wednesday ; Start of Lent|
|25th March||National holiday||Ευαγγελισμού Evangelismoú ("Annunciation")||Independence Day (1821)|
(Friday before Orthodox Easter Sunday)
|Good Friday||Μεγάλη Παρασκευή Megáli Paraskeví
(Orthodox Easter Date )
|Easter Sunday||Πάσχα Pás-cha||Highest religious holiday of the year|
(Monday after Orthodox Easter Sunday)
|Easter Monday||Δευτέρα του Πάσχα Deftéra tou Pás-cha|
|1st of May||Labor Day||Πρωτομαγιά Protomagiá ("First May")|
|15th of August||Assumption Day||Κοίμηση της Θεοτόκου Kímisi tis Theotókou ("Dormition of the Mother of God")|
|28th of October||National holiday||Επέτειος του Όχι Epétios tou Ochi
Ochi-Day ("Anniversary of the No ")
|National Day (1940); see όχι-day|
|25 December||1st Christmas Day||Χριστούγεννα Christoúgenna ("Birth of Christ")|
|December 26th||2nd Christmas Day||Σύναξις Θεοτόκου Synaxis Theotokou
("Assembly in honor of the Mother of God")
According to Article 4 (7) of the Greek Constitution , “Greek citizens (...) are neither conferred nor recognized titles of nobility or rank”. However, titles of nobility are still mentioned in connection with historical persons and persons from abroad.
In 2016, 64.8 percent of Greek households had access to the Internet . As early as 2004, magazines achieved higher gross advertising income than TV stations for the first time - now around 42 percent of all advertising budgets (978 million euros), significantly more than TV and newspapers. The highly indebted publishing industry is being consolidated by foreign investors.
In the 2017 press freedom list published by Reporters Without Borders , Greece was ranked 88th out of 180 countries. According to the non-governmental organization, there are "recognizable problems" with the situation of press freedom in the country.
education and Science
The Greek education system, like comparable education systems in European and North American countries, is divided into pre-school, school, vocational and higher education. In 2015, the literacy rate in Greece was 97.3%. In the 2015 PISA ranking , Greek students rank 44th out of 72 countries in mathematics, 44th in science and 41st in reading comprehension. Greece's values are therefore among the worst among the OECD countries.
In Greece, kindergartens and after-school care centers are available for pre-school education (up to 6 years of age): in 1991 135,014 children attended 5,529 after-school care centers and 8,377 kindergartens. In 2001, 143,401 children attended 5,715 after-school care centers and 11,461 kindergartens. Visiting these facilities is voluntary.
Article 16 (3) of the 1975 Greek Constitution stipulates that schooling is compulsory for nine years, beginning with the age of five. School education must be free. During the Greek military dictatorship from 1967 to 1974, the junta government considered compulsory schooling for six years to be sufficient.
The current Greek school system distinguishes three types of schools: the Dimotiko Scholio (grades 1–6), the Gymnasio (grades 7–9) and the Lykio (grades 10–12). In contrast to the German school system, there are no parallel types of school; all children attend the same type of school. The Dimotiko Scholio - Dimotiko for short - comprises grades 1 to 6 for children aged six to twelve. The Dimotiko corresponding figure at the German school system of primary education plus the first two years of secondary I. The Dimotiko follows that for all students Gymnasio , a three-year of school (grades 7-9), which is mandatory for all children according to the nine-year compulsory education. The Greek education system combines Dimotiko and Gymnasio as basic training. In 1991 there were 7,526 primary education schools (Dimotiko and Gymnasio) with 784,707 students and 42,991 teachers. In 2001 there were 5,753 schools with 639,865 students and 58,376 teachers.
After finishing high school with the ninth grade, the school career can be continued voluntarily: the next school is the Lykio , which runs over three years (grades 10–12). The Lykio corresponds to the upper secondary level or the upper level of the German school system. The technical orientations of the Lykio, which had existed for a time since the 1980s, were abolished in 1998: the Lykio has been a standardized form of school again since then. In the third grade of Lykio, students choose one of five compulsory elective areas, which include several subjects. The elective subject combinations each lead to different higher education: the first to a technical college and / or university, the second to a medical college or faculty, the third to a philosophical or legal higher education, the fourth to a social science higher education and the fifth leads to one technical university (corresponding to German university of applied sciences). In 1991 870,235 pupils attended 3,604 Lykio-type schools, in 2001 693,323 pupils attended 3,968 Lykio-type schools .
Greece has universities (Panepistimio) and technical colleges (TEI, most comparable to a German university of applied sciences). The universities are without exception in state hands under the administration of the Ministry of Education in Athens. Private universities are prohibited under Article 16 (8) of the 1975 Greek Constitution. Training at a Greek university is free of charge; People in need are entitled to state support.
Access to higher education is only possible through a central entrance examination held throughout Greece. The prerequisite for taking this exam is the successful completion of upper secondary level of the Greek primary education system, the Lykion (Lyceum). Held annually in late spring and early summer, this central admission test is the dominant theme in the Greek public, including politics and mass media, every year. The publication of lists of those admitted per course and location in national daily newspapers is the rule, as is special broadcasts on radio and television. In large parts of Greek society, the future of the child is considered unsecured, if not ruined, if the entrance exam to higher education is not passed. Only 18% of the candidates pass the university entrance examination; if the candidates who are given a place for a three-year course at a technical university (TEI) are included, the proportion of successful graduates rises to approx. 35%. The number of places per course and location is determined by the Greek Ministry of Education for all universities in Greece. The resultant examination requirements are thus determined indirectly (or directly) by the Ministry of Education throughout Greece. Analogous to the German ZVS admission procedure in its nationwide version, the course and place of study are determined exclusively according to the examination result. In the 1980s, the requirements for the exams were reduced: for example, the requirement of successfully passing the Lyceum was also abolished. This abolition was done with the intention of improving access to higher education. The consequence of this measure was that at the end of the 1980s only 50% of the examination candidates had successfully completed the Lyceum (upper secondary level) and thus the importance of the “Greek upper secondary level” was further reduced.
The regional distribution of higher education institutions is inhomogeneous and roughly corresponds to the population density. The Athens-Piraeus metropolitan area has eight university institutions and two technical colleges (TEI). Every other administrative region in Greece has a university institution. The agglomeration of Thessaloniki and Central Macedonia has two universities, including the largest in Greece (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki), Crete has several university institutions, the University of Crete and the Technical University of Crete . The administrative region of Peloponnese does not have a university: for students in the Peloponnese, Patras is the closest university educational institution. The TEIs are represented with one institution per administrative region; In contrast to the universities, the location distribution is better thanks to the formation of branches in the area. In a single case, faculties and institutes were also outsourced at the university level: parts of the pedagogical faculty of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki have been outsourced to Florina. In the Athens-Piraeus metropolitan area, the university system is differentiated into different focus universities: National and Technical University, Panteion University for Social and Political Sciences, Harokopio University for National Economy are examples of this. This differentiation is missing in other regions of Greece. In 2005 Greece had a total of 21 universities with 171,967 students and 11,575 teaching staff (no further breakdown). In 1991 there were 115,464 students and 9,124 teaching staff at university educational institutions. In 2005, 75 institutions could be assigned to the TEI: they had 147,715 students and 12,021 teachers (without differentiation). In 1991 there were 77 TEI institutions with 55,559 students and 5,693 teachers (without further differentiation).
The number of students is roughly the same as the population density: In Athens including Piraeus from 1991 to 1992 over 54,000 students studied at eight universities and over 30,000 students at TEI (technical colleges). In Thessaloniki including the TEI in Serres, over 53,000 students studied at two universities and almost 16,000 students at TEI. In comparison, for example, only just under 7,900 students studied at a university in western Greece (Patras), approx. 5,800 students at a university in Epirus (Ioannina) and a little more than 5,000 students at the University of East Macedonia-Thrace in Alexandroupolis. The University of the Ionian Islands had only 419 students from 1991-1992, the University of Thessaly (Larisa) 705 students. The total number of university students in Greece for the same period was 117,980; 79,974 people studied at TEI. In 2001, 148,772 people studied at the universities and 87,797 people at the TEI; 63,000 people studied abroad.
The TEIs were only introduced in the early 1980s by law 1404/1983 under the Andreas Papandreou government. The previously existing technical educational institutions KATEE were replaced by the TEI. The KATEE, as educational institutions with only a limited university character, found no acceptance in the Greek population with their preference for a university higher education. The introduction of the TEI did not have the expected or observed effects with regard to the future labor market opportunities of its graduates, such as the introduction of technical colleges in the Federal Republic of Germany: in Greece the unemployment rate of university graduates rose in the 1980s.
The economic disparity between the supply of study places and the considerably higher demand is attributed to the provisions of Article 16 of the Greek Constitution, which stipulates free university education and a ban on private universities. According to Psacharopoulos, the nationalization of the education system leads to a lack of competition. In addition, the free study services must be earned in the context of economics. The same critic also points out, however, that Greece only spends half of the financial resources per student compared to the OECD average (measured in prices with constant purchasing power). This “relative underfunding” also exists in comparison to the average for the EU countries. According to OECD statistics from 2001, Greece spends USD 4,157 per student (for comparison: Sweden USD 13,224, Netherlands USD 10,757, Germany USD 9,481, EU average USD 9,063). Unemployment among people with higher education under the age of 24 is noteworthy (based on data from Eurostat, 2000): 28.8% in Greece versus 12.8% in the EU average. However, it is not clear whether these people have completed their studies and whether the state planning of study places and courses is responsible for this. The example of the computer science course provides an indication of "bad planning": In 2001, the Ministry of Education set up 125 places in this course for 20,824 applicants. The observation that only 15% of the students in the computer science course also wanted to study this is indicative of a malfunction due to the highly restrictive allocation of study places and study locations. It is also noticeable that Greece has the highest proportion of students abroad in relation to its population: there are 5,257 students abroad per million inhabitants in Greece (for comparison: Germany 637, Japan 499, India 47, Malaysia 1777, France 827; data from OECD 2002). It is seen as particularly negative that many of the students abroad do not return to Greece once they have successfully completed their studies.
In addition to the large universities, the National Hellenic Research Foundation was established in 1958 and the NCSR Demokritos a year later , which operated a research reactor until 10 years ago. It conducts research in many areas of the natural sciences, but in the course of the crisis had to restrict itself to a large extent, because its annual budget was cut from originally € 25 million to now € 12 million. Other important research institutions in the country are the Foundation for Research & Technology - Hellas, founded in 1983, and the CERTH - The Center for Research & Technology, Hellas , based in Thessaloniki.
With a share of 4.4%, employees in research and science make up a relatively small proportion of the workforce, although the numbers are increasing by 3.7% annually (2001–2007). However, university unemployment is high at 5.7% (OECD average: 3.2%). In relation to the population, a relatively large amount is published scientifically, a total of 0.6% of worldwide publications. Innovations are often with foreign partners, 14% of the companies have foreign partners, 28.5% of the patents mention foreign co-inventors. The economic crisis has motivated the government to launch numerous programs to promote science; particularly unconventional approaches are being promoted more strongly than before. Government programs are coordinated by the General Secretariat for Research and Technology of the Ministry of Development (GSRT). In view of the small size of the country and the Greek diaspora, most research institutions have a strong focus on foreign countries, and start-ups are also often founded with headquarters in larger countries, although most of the activities are in Greece.
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