Greece. The area around Athens was hit on September 7 by
an earthquake that claimed more than 120 lives and left
60,000 people homeless. The quake was measured at 5.9 on the
Richter scale. Turkey, which only a few weeks earlier
received Greek help in the severe earthquake in the western
part of the country, sent rescue workers. The two natural
disasters somewhat thawed the frosty relations between the
countries. Foreign Minister Georgios Papandreou visited
Istanbul in October, giving his support for a Turkish EU
Countryaah official website, the capture of Abdullah Ícalan, leader of the Kurdish PKK
guerrilla, got heads rolling in the Greek government in
January. Theodoros Pangalos, Foreign Minister Alexandros
Papadopoulos, Minister of the Interior and Phillipos
Petsalnikos, Minister of Public Order, all resigned at the
request of Prime Minister Kostas Simitis since Ícalan sought
protection in G. but was rejected, after which he was
captured in Kenya by the Turkish security service. New
Foreign Minister became Georgios Papandreou, new Minister of
the Interior Vasso Papandreou and new Minister of Public
Order Michalis Chrysochoidis.
In Athens, in January, students and teachers demonstrated
in protest against new tougher degree rules that would adapt
the Greek education system to the EU. The protests, which
led to clashes between police and protesters, forced 500 of
the country's more than 3,000 schools to close.
US President Bill Clinton would have visited Greece for three
days in early November, but due to massive anti-American
demonstrations, the visit was postponed for a week and
shortened to a day on November 19-20. Violent crows erupted
in Athens in connection with the visit.
In the 1989 election, PASOK was defeated by the
conservative New Democracy. Without a majority in parliament
and without a government program, the presidential office
fell to the leader of the Left coalition, Communist leader
Charilaos Florakis. He formed a transitional government with
New Democracy for the purpose of investigating the financial
scandals. The November 89 election results and subsequent
ones did not give any of the three parties a majority,
leading to the formation of a coalition government.
In the period 1983-89, Greece and the United States
signed a number of cooperation agreements, including
entailed the preservation of 4 North American military bases
in the country against financial and military assistance
from the superpower. At the same time, the United States
promised diplomatic support to Greece in its conflicts with
Turkey - especially around the Cyprus problem. However, in
January 1990, the United States and Greece announced a new
agreement involving the closure of 2 bases as part of a
North American plan to reduce presence in the region.
On March 7 of the same year, a law on collective
agreements was passed in both the private and public labor
markets. The law established the principle of free
negotiation between workers and laborers, thus settling the
50-year tradition of state intervention. At the same time,
it set standards for the organization of factory committees
and trade unions as well as worker participation in
corporate decision-making processes.
Following the victory of Karamanlis in the April 1990
presidential elections, a new government was formed under
the leadership of conservative Konstantin Mitsotakis. In 91,
Mitsotaki implemented public spending cuts, repeal of price
controls and privatizations. The social cost of these steps
was one of the causes of the Conservative government's
defeat in the 923 parliamentary elections. On October 12,
PASOK received 47% of the vote against New Democracy 40% and
the majority of seats in parliament.
The public indebtedness and pressure from the EU to get
the government to implement a "tougher" economic policy made
the situation more difficult for the Papandreu government.
In the 1994 European elections, both PASOK and the
Conservatives went back in favor of smaller parties such as:
Political Spring, the Communist Party and the Left's
Along with permanent rumors of Papandreu's resignation
for holistic reasons as well as new accusations against him
for public money fraud, Finance Minister Alexandros
Papadopoulos implemented a number of unpopular economic
reforms in 1995 and initiated a "tight" budgetary policy.
Papandreu was ill and was increasingly criticized, even
within his own party. That caused him in January 96 to
withdraw from the presidential post. The historical leader
of the Greek Social Democracy died in June, a few months
later. He was replaced by his former Minister of Industry,
Constantin Simitis. In September, PASOK won the
parliamentary election with 41.5% of the vote.
The tension between Greece and Turkey continued as a
result of, among other things, the situation in Cyprus.
However, this did not prevent both countries from
participating in a regional summit in Athens with the
governments of the other Balkans. Simitis stated that the
purpose of the summit was to change the image of "disorder"
that impedes the integration of the region into the rest of
To show its willingness for regional integration, the
Athens government in January 98 decided to loosen a
discriminatory clause in the constitution that would allow
"non-ethnic Greeks" to revoke their citizenship if they
wanted to leave Greece. This section had predominantly been
applied to the Muslim population of predominantly Turkish
descent. About 60,000 people had lost their Greek
citizenship since this criticized regulation was first
implemented under the "colonial dictatorship".
The period leading up to US President Bill Clinton's
visit to Greece in November 1999 was marked by protest
demonstrations and bomb attacks. Tensions between Greece and
the United States had risen in previous months due to the US
reported bombing of Yugoslavia.
In just a few weeks' time, both Greece and neighboring
Turkey were hit by severe earthquakes in 1999, reinforcing
the solidarity between the two traditional arch enemies. In
each situation, they sent relief to the opposing party. In
November, for the first time in history, the two countries
supported a joint UN proposal for the establishment of an
international emergency relief unit for emergency
situations. The rapprochement between the two countries was
also reflected in Greece's lifting of its veto on Turkish
accession to the EU.