The Greeks continue to pay considerable attention to the Balkan sector with the declared aim of strengthening economic relations and regional cooperation in terms of security. Despite the results achieved internationally, at the beginning of 2004 Simitis announced both the early elections and his resignation from the leadership of PASOK, which was going through a significant consensus crisis, and, in fact, in the legislative elections in March, PASOK, led by from G. Papandréou, was defeated by the conservative New Democracy party, whose leader, K. Karamanlis, was appointed premier. The country hosted the Olympics in August. In February 2005 the Parliament elected Karolos Papoulias as president.
In September 2007 the legislative elections were held, won by New Democracy with 41.8% of the votes, while the PASOK obtained 38%. The novelty was represented by the far-right party Laos which entered Parliament with 3.8% of the votes. In 2008, a law on pension reform was passed which was strongly opposed by the opposition and the trade unions. In December of the same year, following the killing of a boy by a policeman, violent street protests broke out in the country. In September 2009, Prime Minister Karamanlis called early elections to deal with the economic crisis and the narrow majority of the government. The latter took place in October and saw the clear victory of Papandréou’s PASOK who became prime minister, with the difficult task of getting the country out of a heavy economic crisis and finding a new structure for the welfare state. At the beginning of 2010 the country’s financial crisis remained very difficult and over time the social situation was also worsening.
In May the European Union and the IMF they decided to help Greece with a loan, in exchange for an economic austerity plan launched by the government of Athens, which however triggered clashes and protests in the capital and in other cities of the country. In 2011, after a series of general strikes and strong social tensions, Prime Minister Papandréou proposed a government of national unity to get the austerity plan approved, but at the beginning of November he resigned and economist Lucas Papademos became prime minister, who it formed another government of broad agreements, which in February approved a new plan to reduce the country’s economic crisis. The elections of May 2012 saw the traditional, socialist and New Democracy parties lose a lot of support in favor of the radical left (Syriza) and far-right political groups. In the following days the political leaders could not agree on the formation of a new executive and Panagiotis Pikrammenos was appointed premier, pending new elections, which took place in June. The latter saw the reconsolidation of conservative “pro-euro” parties and led to a government led by Antonis Samaras, leader of the New Democracy according to intershippingrates.
In 2013, the country was facing another year of recession and austerity, with serious social consequences due in particular to the sharp rise in unemployment. The requests for cuts in public services and employment imposed by EU, ECB and IMF to grant financial aid caused widespread discontent on the part of the population, also demonstrated on the occasion of the European elections in May 2014, which saw the success of the radical left coalition SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left). In the January 2015 political elections SYRIZA, led by its leader Alexīs Tsipras, won by obtaining over 36% of the votes and 149 seats: Tsipras was appointed premier. Meanwhile, negotiations between the country and international creditors were being carried out, but with few results. In June the government decided to submit by referendum the decision to accept or not the creditors’ conditions: no, but following the agreement with Europe, the premier resigned. Vasiliki Thanou, president of the supreme court became interim prime minister. In the subsequent elections in September, SYRIZA obtained 35.4% of the votes, followed by New Democracy with 28.26%; Tsipras became prime minister for the second time.
The lower Paleolithic in Greece is not yet well known. Among the most ancient finds, the skull of Petralona must be reported, found inside a cave in the Chalkidiki peninsula, outside the stratigraphic context. Of an indeterminate age, the skull has characters for which it has been proposed that it be combined with the European anteneanderthals. A sequence with a Mousterian of Levallois technique at the base, followed by a micro-Mousterian dated to about 40,000 years ago, is known in the Asprochaliko shelter, in Epirus, in the nearby site of Kokkinopilos and in Vasilaki (Elis). Industries of the upper Paleolithic, between the 21st and the 14th millennium from today, characterized by the frequency of slats with their back knocked down, are known in the Kastritsa cave in Epirus. A long prehistoric sequence is known in the Franchthi cave (Argolida), with the upper Paleolithic at the base, followed by important Mesolithic and Neolithic levels. The remains of pre-ceramic cultures dating back to the sixth millennium, coming from Macedonia, Thessaly and Cyprus, as well as later ones assignable above all to the cultures of Sesklo and Dimini are relevant from the Neolithic times. The remains of the Bronze Age for which the Thessalian, Helladic, Cycladic and Minoan cultures with which one faces the protohistoric times are identified. As for the history of ancient Greece, from the Archaic age to the domination of the Roman Empire, see the entry Greece (ancient civilization).