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Greece Greece and the European Community
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
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    In his address to the nation on July 24, 1994, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the return to parliamentary democracy, President Karamanlis pointed to Greek membership in the EC and then the EU as the single most fateful (and fortunate) move in determining the country's foreign policy orientation and economic development in the last two decades. Shortly thereafter, however, the relationship with the EU was under some strain because of Greece's chronically lagging economy and EU pressures for strict implementation of the economic convergence measures called for by the Maastricht Treaty (see International Economic Policy in the 1990s , ch. 3).

    Considerable political friction had also developed between Greece and the EU. In February 1994, Greece's unilateral embargo against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM--as the nations of the world officially recognized that nation) provoked sharp disapproval and the threat of legal measures from all the European allies.

    Greece's initial associate membership in what was then the EC was arranged in 1961 by Karamanlis for strictly economic reasons. Then, soon after the end of the military junta in 1974, Karamanlis again steered Greece into the EC associate membership that the junta had relinquished in 1969, this time on unequivocally political grounds. In his view, close association with the economic organizations of the democratic West would institutionalize democracy and make another military coup less likely. The move would also relieve the pressures stemming from Greece's dependency on a single foreign power (the United States) in the bipolar world of the Cold War. (Ironically, PASOK then used the danger of overdependency in its propaganda against maintaining full membership in the EC between 1981 and 1985, by which time the benefits of the relationship had become clear to all.).

    By signing the Single European Act in 1985, the PASOK government committed Greece to a broad set of social, environmental, and technological goals set by the EC with the expectation that a single European market could be established in 1992. In the event, the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, which upon its ratification in 1993 established the EU as the basis of the single market, found fervent support from Greece. Being the sole Balkan member of the EU has boosted its leverage against Turkey, and membership has enabled Greece to narrow the focus of its defense and security interests. Greece is also a member of the other major Western political and defense alliances: the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE--see Glossary), NATO, and the West European Union (WEU--see Glossary). On occasion, Greece has taken advantage of these European ties in the pursuit of its national interests. Greece has resorted to a battery of political ploys to block the inflow of large EU loans to Turkey, for example, while also calling into question that country's domestic political practices and human rights record. These moves have also had a significant influence on the EU's continued denial of Turkey's applications for EU membership.

    Similarly, while presiding over the EU in 1994, Greece sought to block FYROM's entry into the CSCE, without prejudicing the general principle of adding new members to that organization. Another important goal on the Greek agenda was the implementation of economic development projects in Albania and Bulgaria under the EU's interregional program (see Security in the Balkans , ch. 5). Greece felt that improving economies in neighboring countries were in its long-term interest; by 1992 Greece was the largest foreign investor in Bulgaria's manufacturing sector, and it was among the leaders in Romania as well. On the other hand, the massive influx of Albanian refugees into Greece placed serious strain on Greek-Albanian relations in the early 1990s. In early 1994, an incident on the Albanian-Greek border escalated into a severe crisis and forced Greece to reverse its support of the EU Albanian aid program in order to gain leverage over human rights practices in Albania.

    In its tenure as head of the EU, Greece successfully conducted negotiations on the future membership of Austria, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, all of which held domestic referenda on that issue in 1994. Experts believed that further involvement in the political networks and federalist institutions of Europe, as opposed to strictly defense-oriented organizations, would benefit Greece's international posture and provide valuable experience in negotiation of economic issues.

    Data as of December 1994

    NOTE: The information regarding Greece on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Greece Greece and the European Community information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Greece Greece and the European Community should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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Revised 10-Nov-04
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