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 membership.
Visit Countryaah official website to get information about the capital city of Greece. The capture of Abdullah Öcalan, 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 Öcalan sought protection in Greece 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 Progress Coalition.
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 Europe.
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.