The history of Greece and the Greek-speaking people goes
back to ca. 1600 before our time calculation. The Greek
antiquity extends from 800 BCE. to 395 AD and was a period
of political, philosophical, artistic and scientific
innovations that constitute a cultural heritage that has
exercised fundamental influence on Western civilization.
Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Greece was part of
the Byzantine Empire, before the Ottoman Empire took control
of the Late Middle Ages. After a war of freedom against the
Ottoman Empire, in 1832 Greece was recognized as an
independent state. During World War II, Greece was occupied
by Nazi Germany. The liberation in 1944 was followed by
unrest and civil war that lasted until 1949. A military
junta seized power in the country in 1967 and kept it to
1974. After the restoration of democracy was Greece at a
referendum declared republic in 1975. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Greece.
The Middle Ages
Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Greece was part of
the Byzantine Empire. From the 500s an extensive Slavic
immigration took place, but the slaves merged with the
Greeks. From the 9th century, Norman knights began to settle
in the country. As the Byzantine Empire fell apart during
the Crusade, a number of small states were formed, including
Epirus, the Principality of Akhaia, the Kingdom of
Thessaloniki and the Duchy of Athens.
In the 1200s subjugated Venice itself Crete (Kandia),
Evboia and several other islands in the Aegean and Ionian
Seas, and also had periods sovereignty over parts of the
In the first half of the 1400s, the Ottomans (Turks)
occupied most of Greece north of the Peloponnese, and in the
latter half also the rest of the country, with the exception
of Crete and some of the other Venetian areas.
The Ottoman Lordship 1460-1828
This era was characterized by large movements of people
groups. Many Greeks fled to Italy or the Ionian Islands to
escape Ottoman rule. For political and economic reasons, the
Turks settled throughout the Ottoman Empire.
In Greece, they mainly settled in cities or in fertile
agricultural areas. Ottoman cavalrymen took over large lands
owned by Greek peasants and then leased this land to the
Greek peasants. This was called the timer system.
Many Greek boys were also picked to become the Sultan's
slaves, including in the Janits army. When the cavalry
gradually lost its importance, the Ottomans switched to
cargo operation, and it was common for Greek peasants to be
forced into a living.
A large part of the Greeks were financially exploited or
persecuted because of their religion during the Turkish
rule, but the Greeks still retained a degree of
self-government, such as religious and linguistic freedom.
This was done through the millet system,
where the various religions within the book people were
given a certain administrative direction to ensure loyalty
to the Ottoman government.
The latter half of the 17th century was characterized by
fierce fighting between the Ottoman Empire and Venice. The
Ottomans invaded Crete in 1669, while Venice gained control
of the Peloponnese and the islands of the Ionian Sea in
1699. Under Venetian rule, there was severe unrest in these
areas, which helped the Ottoman Empire to easily take back
the territories in 1718.
By the end of the 18th century, Greek trade and shipping
had flourished, and economic progress promoted national
sentiment and freedom. Greek merchants abroad helped create
the "Freedom Association" Filiki Etairia, which was
mobilizing on the freedom struggle. The Ottoman Empire was
at that time weakened by the Russo-Turkish war in the late
The Greek War of Independence 1821-1829
In 1821, a vicious revolt broke out against the Turkish
rule of the Peloponnese. The rebels quickly spread to the
islands and north, and in the summer of 1822 Athens was
conquered. The Greeks' struggle became a symbol of
liberalism and national liberation. Both were important in
the nation-state rebellion after the Napoleonic wars.
At the same time as there was a rebellion against the
Ottoman rule, there were strong political contradictions
within Greece. Liberals and conservatives, Republicans and
monarchists fought against each other to win power.
The anti-Turkish struggle eventually developed into an
international conflict. Egypt, which was an independent part
of the Ottoman Empire, intervened in Greece in 1825 to
defeat the Greek rebels. The Egyptian Pasha Ibrahim came to
Peloponnese, and after hard fighting he took Mesolongion in
Then Britain, France and Russia intervened (London
Protocol 1827) to support Greece, and the naval forces
destroyed the Turkish-Egyptian navy at Navarino, October 20,
1827. The following year a war broke out between Russia and
Turkey, and Russia won decisive victories the following
year. Peace was made in Edirne (Adrianople), and the Ottoman
sultan had to recognize Greece as an independent state.
By a new London protocol in 1830, the three great powers
recognized Greece as an independent but not autonomous
state. Count Kapodistrias (former Russian Foreign Minister)
was appointed new regent. He led a pro-Russian foreign
policy, and nationally he worked to introduce a centralized
state power. In the provinces there was strong opposition to
the policy of centralization. Kapodistrias' opponents
carried out a conspiracy against him, with support from
France and England, and in 1831 Kapodistrias was
The following year, Greece gained the status of an
independent kingdom under the protection of the great powers
of France, Russia and the United Kingdom, and Prince Otto of
Bavaria was appointed king as King Otto 1. He introduced a
strongly centralized regime and sought to conduct an
independent foreign policy, without the influence of great
powers. After a revolt, constitutional monarchy was
introduced in Greece. Political life was largely
characterized by a conflict between "radical" and
"conservative" about constitutional development.
During the Crimean War (1853-1856), a British-French
fleet forced Greece to remain neutral. In 1862 a provisional
government deposed King Otto, and the great powers
recommended Greece to take Prince William of Denmark as
king. Prince Vilhelm took power in 1863 and took the royal
name Georg 1. After this change of power, Greece received
the Ionian Islands as a gift from the United Kingdom. King
Georg 1 led an expansive foreign policy and his choice
language was: From King of Greece to King of the Greeks.
The expansionist policy, the so-called Megali Idea,
came to dominate Greek politics for almost a hundred years.
Efforts to achieve territorial enlargement have largely
neglected internal social tasks.
A new and more democratic constitution was introduced in
1864 (among other things, universal suffrage was introduced
for men), but political strife continued. As a "reward" for
conducting a neutral policy during the Russo-Turkish War of
1877-1878, Greece was promised territorial enlargement at
the Berlin Congress in 1878. Thessalia and part of Epirus
became Greek territory in 1881. Nevertheless, the country
continued to struggle to incorporate the remaining
territories with Greek inhabitants of Europe and Asia Minor.
Greece supported, among other things, the uprisings in Crete
and Macedonia, and in 1897 a war broke out between Greece
and the Ottoman Empire over the rights of Crete. Greece
suffered defeat and was forced to withdraw from the island,
but Crete was declared autonomous state by the great powers
Greece demanded the whole of Macedonia, and this demand
led to conflict with Romania in 1905, and in 1906 with
Bulgaria. In 1908, after Austria-Hungary's annexation of
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Crete's Declaration of Independence,
Greece remained passive.
After a time of great conflicts between politicians, a
military league was established in 1909. In practice, this
meant that the army assumed power. In 1910, the Cretaceous
formed Eleftherios Venizelos The Liberal Party, Komma
Fileleftheron, while the conservative nationalists
gathered in an "anti-Venizelian" People's Party, Komma
Laikon. These were the first signs of party formation
Venizelos removed the military league and took control of
the country itself. The National Assembly elected in 1910
supported Venizelos, and the 1912 parliamentary elections
gave him a large majority. He ruled for several years
self-employed. The financial system was in order, the army
was reorganized by French officers, but at the same time
there was deep division and great turmoil in Greek politics
at this time.
During the first Balkan war in 1912–1913, members of the
new Balkan Alliance (Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro and
Greece) fought against Turkey, securing almost all of the
Ottoman Empire's possessions in Europe. The peace was
concluded in London on May 30, 1913.
The Second Balkan War of 1913 was a conflict between
Serbia, Greece and Romania, on the one hand, and Bulgaria,
on the other, over the distribution of the conquests.
Bulgaria attacked Greece and Serbia, but was beaten and
relinquished Macedonia to the opponents.
The result of the Balkan wars was that Turkey could only
retain a small land area on the European continent, while
Greece and Serbia in particular were allowed to expand their
territories significantly. Greece's land area increased by
56,000 km2 and nearly 2 million inhabitants.
In 1913, King Georg 1 was assassinated in Thessaloniki.
His son and successor, Constantine 1, became very popular
with the nationalists because he had won major military
victories. This was the beginning of the battle between
Venizelos (liberal) and Constantine (conservative).
World war one
At the beginning of the First World War, the entente
powers tried to get Bulgaria and Greece into the fight
against Turkey. Venizelos had plans to join the attack on
the Dardanelles (Turkey), but this was not supported by the
general staff. The king therefore deposed Venizelos in March
1915. Despite this, Venizelos got the majority in the
elections that year, and he again became prime minister.
When Bulgaria mobilized against Serbia, Venizelos
mobilized the Greek army and allowed French and British
troops to land in Thessaloniki and operate from there. This
was a violation of the policy of neutrality, and became an
important issue in the struggle between liberal and
conservative forces. The question of participation in the
First World War was largely related to the so-called
"national schism" (Ethnicos Dichasmos) in Greek
politics: the fate of the Greeks who lived outside the
country - primarily in Turkey.
When Bulgaria went to war against Serbia in 1915, the
king again dismissed Venizelos. In 1916, the entente
extended the Saloniki front to the Adriatic. Bulgarian
troops were able to occupy any Greek fort east of
Thessaloniki, without combat. Because this happened without
fighting, the entente suspected the Greek government of
having a secret deal with the enemy. The Entente therefore
demanded demobilization of the Greek army. With the support
of the entente, an unofficial pro-entente government was
formed in Thessaloniki in 1916. Venizelos was among the
leaders of this government.
In June 1917, Constantine 1 was forced to leave the
country and left the government to his second oldest son,
Alexander. He took Venizelos as prime minister and let him
reign supreme. Greece then declared war on Germany, Bulgaria
and Turkey. The Greek army was reorganized and fought in
1918 against the Bulgarians. At the peace in
Neuilly-sur-Seine, November 27, 1919, Greece gained
Bulgaria's part of Thrace. Greek troops participated the
same year in the entente's occupation of Smyrna (Izmir) and
the surrounding area. The peace agreement between the
Entent, Greece and Turkey was signed in Sčvres on August 10,
1920. Greece took over almost all of eastern Thrace, in
addition to the Smyrna area.
The interwar period
During the 1920 election, King Alexander died. There was
a controversy over Constantine's chances of becoming king
again after his appearance during the First World War. In
the 1920 election, Venizelo's defeat suffered and he left
the country. In December 1920 Constantine 1 returned to
Athens, but he was not recognized by the Entent, and his
return particularly changed France's attitude towards
Greece. France stopped providing financial support to Greece
and decided to give Turkey better conditions than the Treaty
of Sevres. This led to the Greek government going to war
against Turkey to secure the rule of Asia Minor, and to
incorporate the Greeks who lived there in Greece.
In 1922 the Greek troops were expelled from Asia Minor by
the Turks, and Constantine I had to abdicate. He was
succeeded by his eldest son Georg 2, and Colonel Nikolas
Plastiras took over the government. At the Lausanne peace
with Turkey in July 1923, Greece had to give up all that was
won in Asia Minor and renounce part of Thrace. This was the
definitive end to the Megali Idea (expansion
The Peace Agreement (Lausanne Agreement) between Greece
and Turkey entailed an exchange of Greek and Turkish
peoples. Nearly 500,000 Turks (ie, Turkish-speaking Greeks)
were relocated from Greece to Turkey, while around 1.5
million Greeks (ie Greek-speaking Christian Turks) were
relocated from Turkey to Greece. A large part of the
refugees who came to Greece settled in Macedonia. The Greek
proportion of Macedonia's population increased by 43% to
In the early 1920s, there was an ever-increasing demand
from the Greek people for economic and social reforms. In
1924, a referendum was held in which the majority voted to
introduce a Republican state form, and Georg 2 was deposed.
Venizelos again became prime minister in June 1928 and ruled
almost unanimously until October 1932. This period was
marked by political instability and major financial
problems. In 1932, Venizelos had to step down as prime
minister when he was no longer able to deal with the
country's problems, especially the economic crisis.
After years of discontent and crisis, the Greek voters
voted in November 1935 to reinstate the monarchy. King Georg
2 returned, but his attempt to implement a parliamentary
regime was unsuccessful. General Ioannis Metaxas appointed
himself head of government in April 1936. He suspended the
constitution and served as a dictator. For four years he
ruled Greece according to semi-fascist principles, with
Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler as role models.
On October 28, 1940, Italy attacked Greece from Albania,
but the attack was turned back. Metaxas died in January
1941. German forces attacked Greece on April 6 of that year.
Despite some British support, all of Greece was occupied by
Germany, Italy and Bulgaria. The king and the government had
to leave the country. The government finally settled in
Cairo, the King of London. Greece was among the countries
most severely looted and injured as a result of World War
Greek resistance groups were at odds with the occupying
power throughout Greece, but were divided among themselves.
The strongest was the radical Republican National Liberation
Front, EAM. The Front's military units were organized in the
Greek People's Liberation Army, ELAS, which became its
successor in the Communist DSE.
In April 1944, the Cairo government was transformed on a
broader party political basis, with the centrist Georgios
Papandreou as the head of government. Both the monarchist
organization, EDES, and EAM were dissatisfied with the
representation in the new government, and the opposition
within the resistance movement was deepened.
In October 1944, the government returned from Cairo after
the German troops left Greece. Papandreou ordered the
dissolution of the liberation army ELAS. The organization
refused to be disarmed, and there was a government crisis
when seven EAM ministers left the government. Papandreou
retired in December 1944.
There were demonstrations all over Greece, and around New
Year 1944/1945 fighting broke out between British soldiers
and ELAS forces. During the spring, the authorities gained
control of the situation, and EAM supporters were removed
from the administration.
In the elections to the National Assembly in March 1946,
the monarchists prevailed, and in September of that year, a
referendum was held on whether King Georg 2 should return.
Since December 1944, Archbishop Damaskinos had served as
regent. The vote showed a majority for the monarchy, and in
September 1946, Georg 2 was able to return from exile for
the third time.
Greece had major financial problems in the first post-war
years. There was a shortage of food, housing and clothing,
and this formed the basis for opposition to the sitting
regime. In the fall of 1946 there was a powerful clash
between guerrillas and police and military forces. Later in
the fall, an "independent" Greek government was proclaimed
under the leadership of Communist General Markos Vafiadis.
Especially in Northern Greece there were serious battles
between the government forces and the communist rebels. The
authorities received technical and material assistance from
the United States, and the rebels had to give up the fight
against the government forces.
In 1949 the Markos forces ceased all organized
resistance, and the parliamentary 'right' had prevailed.
Tens of thousands of people lost their lives in the civil
war, and major material destruction was done throughout
In the 1951 elections, a rally of right-wing parties, led
by Field Marshal Alexandros Papagos, who had been at the
head of the government troops during the Civil War,
prevailed. Despite Papagos' victory, the National Progress
Party, led by General Nikolaos Plastiras, formed a minority
government. It retained power until 1952, when a new
constitution was passed and elections were introduced in
one-man circles. Due to the new electoral system, a number
of smaller parties lost their seats in the National
Assembly. This led to a clearer division of the space
between the Greek Assembly and the Democratic Union under
Plastiras. Greek assembly won a superior victory, and
Papagos again formed government.
In 1952, Greece joined NATO. The following year, the
country entered into an agreement with Turkey and Yugoslavia
on military cooperation. In 1954, the agreement was extended
to the political, economic and cultural fields (the Balkan
Pact). This cooperation agreement had no practical
In 1954, anti-critical demonstrations broke out in Cyprus
and in several Greek cities. The protesters objected to the
British government refusing a request from Greece to
negotiate Cyprus' status. The UN General Assembly dealt with
the matter without result. The situation on the island was
aggravated and British nationals and Turkish Cypriots were
attacked by Greek Cypriots. The problems in Cyprus caused
Greece to have a tense relationship with both Turkey and the
United Kingdom. In 1955 the British deported Archbishop
Makarios, who was the Greek leader in Cyprus.
The Cyprus conflict was the dominant foreign policy issue
in the late 1950s. General Georgios Grivas started a
movement demanding that Cyprus be subject to Greece. In
autumn 1960 supported 1 / 3 of
National Assembly members this movement.
In 1955, Prime Minister Papagos died, and Konstantinos
Karamanlis became new head of government. The Coalition
Greek Assembly was reorganized as the National Radical
Union. In the elections to the new National Assembly in
1956, the National Radical Union gained the most seats,
although the Democratic Union got several votes. This was a
result of the new electoral system. Women had the right to
vote for the first time, and the election marked the
beginning of a stable period in Greek politics, with
Karamanlis serving as prime minister until 1963.
In June 1963, Karamanlis resigned, and various business
ministries ruled the country until the election the same
year, with Papandreous Center Union receiving the most seats
in the National Assembly. Papandreou refused to form a
government as he would then depend on the support of the
Communists. The king was forced to print new elections to
ensure the country's stable government. In the 1964
election, the Central Union triumphed, and Papandreou was
able to form a government. Shortly after the election, King
Paul died, and his son Constantine 2 took over. Prime
Minister Papandreou came into conflict with the young king
on the issue of control of the military forces, and he
resigned in July 1965.
Junta rule 1967–1974
In the spring of 1965, the king accused a group of
officers of preparing a coup. The charges sharpened the
political controversy. Throughout much of Greece there were
demonstrations and unrest. In September 1965, King Stefanos
Stefanopoulos from the right wing of the Central Union
formed government. This was dropped as early as December
1966 and a Ministry of Business took over.
King Constantine 2 asked Panayotis Kanellopoulos, the
leader of the opposition in parliament, to form a new
government, instead of asking Papandreou, who had the
majority behind him. Kanellopoulos dissolved parliament and
wrote new elections. In April 1967, a group of colonels made
state coups for fear that reforms in the armed forces would
be introduced if the Center Union won the election.
The junta appointed Attorney General Konstantinos Kollias
as prime minister, but retained real power himself. The
Constitution was put into effect and 6,000 to 7,000 people,
especially left-wing politicians and trade unionists, were
arrested. Strict censorship was introduced, and the planned
National Assembly elections were canceled. The population
was largely passive to the coup, and the king's position was
A few months after the coup, General Grivas, who had
become commander-in-chief of Cyprus, attacked Turkish
villages on the island. Turkey reacted immediately, but due
to pressure from Western powers they failed to go to
military invasion of the island. General Grivas had to step
down and a large number of Greek troops were withdrawn from
Cyprus. Following this defeat, the King, together with Prime
Minister Kollias, attempted a counter-coup on December 13.
This was completely unsuccessful, and the king had to flee
to Italy with his family and Collias.
In June 1967, the junta appointed Colonel Georgios
Papadopoulos as head of government. He had been one of the
leaders of the coup in April of that year. In addition to
becoming prime minister, he became defense minister, later
also education minister and foreign minister. In 1972 he
also took over as regent.
In the spring of 1968, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, with
the accession of the Netherlands to the European Commission
on Human Rights, complained that Greece had breached the
human rights convention and was successful. Greece thus lost
its place in the Council of Europe.
Following disclosures of planned coup plans by Royal Navy
officers, Greece was proclaimed a republic for the first
time on June 1, 1973. A referendum approved the change in
state form. Papadopoulos became president and appointed a
civilian government, but the junta still had strong control
over the country. Papadopoulos liberalized the economy,
abolished the state of emergency and released political
prisoners. At this time, the junta government was
characterized by internal divisions, and there was strong
social unrest in the country, due to an increasingly
difficult economic situation.
In November 1973, students and workers demonstrated
against the country's economic policies, especially against
high inflation. The student demonstrations outside Athens
Polytechnic University were brutally beaten by security
police and resulted in 24 people being killed. The
demonstration on November 17, 1973, was seen as the
beginning of the fall of the military junta, and is marked
annually in Athens. A group of right-wing generals dismissed
Papadopoulos because they believed his liberalist policies
had gone too far. General Fedon Gizikis took over as
president, introduced a state of emergency and postponed the
scheduled election indefinitely.
The fall of the junta came in July 1974. The Greek
government supported a coup d'état in Cyprus, and Turkey
responded by invading the northern part of the island. The
Greek General Staff declared that the country's armed forces
were not prepared for a new war, and the junta departed on
July 23, 1974. Later that year, Greece regained its
membership of the Council of Europe.
After the military state of emergency was abolished,
Konstantinos Karamanlis returned from exile and formed a new
government. In the November 1974 election, his party
captured New Democracy, Neá Dimokratía (ND) 220 out
of 300 seats in parliament. The second largest party was the
Panhellenic Socialist Movement, Panellínio
Socialistikó Kínima (PASOK), led by Andreas Papandreou,
son of Georgios Papandreou.
Greece was given a new Republican constitution in June
1975, after a referendum in December 1974 refused to
reinstate the monarchy. In the autumn 1975 lawsuits, the
junta leaders from 1967 to 1974 were convicted, along with a
number of their supporters. Later, the sentenced death
sentences were turned into life imprisonment. The opposition
criticized the government for not going far enough in
settlement with the past.
In 1975, Konstantinos Tsatsos, who was politically close
to Karamanlis, was elected president. At the 1977
parliamentary elections, New Democracy gained an absolute
majority, thus retaining government power. The government
pursued a moderate policy, with particular emphasis on
strengthening the economy and improving the country's social
conditions. Karamanlis served as prime minister until he was
elected president in 1980. Georgios Rallis took over as
At the election of a new National Assembly in 1981, the
right side lost. PASOK got an absolute majority and Andreas
Papandreou became prime minister. The party went to election
with the slogan allaghi (change), and was presented
as the heir to the Greek center. Papandreou pursued a
leftist policy. In 1985, PASOK declined somewhat, but still
retained an absolute majority.
That same year, Papandreou refused to support Karamanlis
as president for a new five-year term. Karamanlis, in turn,
withdrew from the election in protest of proposed amendments
to the constitution, which was aimed at transferring the
president's executive power to parliament. In 1986 the
amendments were adopted. The National Assembly elected
Supreme Court Judge Christos Sartzetakis as new president.
In 1989, Greece entered a political crisis characterized
by stagnation and unclear governance. PASOK struggled,
especially as the government's role in various economic
scandals came into the spotlight. Papandreou and four other
former government members were also charged with involvement
in various corruption cases. A special tribunal was set up
to deal with the situation. After the June elections, PASOK
lost the majority and ND formed a government with a
coalition party. A new election was held as early as
November 1989, but neither party won a majority. In the
period from October 1989 to April 1990 several different
interim boards were put in power.
The conflicts with Turkey have largely dominated Greek
foreign policy. When Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974, the
relationship tightened. The establishment of a
Turkish-Cypriot Republic in 1983 did not make the
relationship better. In 1984, Greece refused to participate
in a NATO exercise because of this conflict. In addition,
the question of sovereignty over the oil-rich continental
shelf in the Aegean has led to conflicts between the states.
There was almost a military conflict in 1987 because of
Right after Karamanlis returned from exile in 1974, he
expressed that Greece should join the EC. The EF had played
a prominent role against the junta, and in addition the EC
could be a potential backer for Turkey. The Greek
application was sent in 1975 and the negotiations ended in
1979. From 1981 Greece became a full member of the EC.
Greece joined NATO in 1952, but after the fall of the
junta, Karamanlis wanted to distance Greece from the United
States. In August 1974, he stated that the time period for
US military bases in Greece had to be renegotiated. In 1983,
however, the Greek government signed a five-year defense and
economic cooperation agreement with the United States, which
maintained the four US bases in the country. This despite
the promises that the bases should be removed, and despite
the fact that the US still wanted a close relationship with
Turkey in NATO.
Greece in the 1990s
Party politics and elections
After the April 1990 elections, a pure Conservative
government was formed, led by Konstantinos Mitsotakis. In
the same year, former President Karamanlis was elected new
president. The case against Papandreou came up before the
Special Tribunal in 1991, and in January 1992 he was
acquitted on all counts. After the acquittal, Papandreou
demanded new elections because he believed the charges
against him had played a major role in the Conservative
election victory in 1990.
When two of the New Democrats in parliament left the
party in favor of a newly formed center-right party in 1993,
the ND lost the majority. Mitsotakis resigned and wrote new
elections. The defiant prime minister was accused of
exploiting the prime minister's position for personal gain
and corruption, but parliament withdrew the charge in 1994.
In the 1993 election, PASOK got 46.9% of the vote and a
pure majority in parliament. Papandreou became prime
minister, but illness forced him to resign in January 1996.
In June of that year he died. After internal disputes and
power struggles in PASOK, Kostas Simitis took over as prime
minister. He also took over as party leader, and his entry
as leader of PASOK led the party to approach the Social
Democratic parties in other Western European countries.
In 1995, Parliament elected Konstantinos Stefanopoulos as
president. The following year, Simitis wrote a new election
to parliament to give the government a firm mandate to
implement the economic reforms needed to achieve the goal of
membership in the EU's monetary union. In the September
elections, PASOK received a majority.
Despite major demonstrations and general strikes,
Simitis' government continued to pursue the austerity and
austerity policy needed to adapt to EU requirements. The
right side made a relatively poor choice and Miltiadis Evert
stepped down as the leader of ND. In 1997, Konstantinos
(Kostas) Karamanlis, nephew of the former president of the
same name, was elected a new leader in ND.
In June 1997, the Supreme Court approved that the estates
of King Constantine 2 could be nationalized and that his
family's citizenship be revoked. The King presented his case
to the European Court of Human Rights and was granted a
hearing in November 2000.
In 1999, it became known that Kurdish guerrilla leader
Abdullah Öcalan had been given protection in the Greek
embassy in Kenya before being taken by the Turkish
authorities. Three ministers had to step down because of the
handling of this matter.
Foreign policy in the 1990s was characterized by several
conflicts. The old conflict with Turkey over the oil
resources in the Aegean flared up again in 1994, and from
1996 to 1997 Turkey and Greece stood against each other in
Cyprus and in connection with border issues in the Aegean.
Relations between the two countries improved somewhat
towards the end of the 1990s, and in 1999 Greece expressed
its wish to welcome Turkey as a future EU member.
Another foreign policy conflict came to the surface in
1992, when Greece failed to recognize Macedonia in
connection with the EU's recognition of the new states of
former Yugoslavia. Much of the former historic Macedonia is
part of Greece, and the Greeks feared territorial demands
from the new Macedonia. In 1994 Greece introduced a blockade
of Macedonian goods. The Greeks reacted particularly to the
country using the name Macedonia and an ancient
Greek-Macedonian sun symbol in the flag. The case was
provisionally resolved in 1995, when the sun symbol was
slightly changed and the country's official name became "The
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (English
abbreviation: FYROM). The conflict flared up again in 2004,
when the United States recognized the country as "Republic
The anti-American currents, which have been latent in
Greek society ever since the junta era, ignited fiercely
during NATO's bombing of Serbia in 1999. Greece has
traditionally had close relations with Serbia, and only
reluctantly agreed to the use of weapons. Polls showed that
over 95% of the population was against the bombing, and when
Bill Clinton visited Athens in the fall of 1999, there were
fierce demonstrations against the United States.
In the 1990s, several Greek groups targeted bomb attacks
and assaults on political, military and commercial targets
in Greece. The government launched a series of measures to
combat the attacks in 1994, but the authorities failed to
stop them. In June 2000, British defense attache Stephen
Saunders was killed by the terrorist group on 17 November.
The group justified the assassination with Saunder's role in
planning NATO's bombing of Kosovo in 1999. The left-wing
terrorist group was founded in the mid-1970s and has focused
its actions on American and Turkish targets in particular.
Saunders' murder led to international concern that the
Greeks would fail in the fight against the attacks. In July
2000, Britain and Greece agreed on a series of measures to