Country in SE Europe, comprising the S Balkan peninsula, bounded N by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria, NW by Albania, NE by Turkey, E by the Aegean Sea, S by the Mediterranean Sea, and W by the Ionian Sea.
The 1975 constitution provides for a parliamentary system of government, with a president who is head of state, a prime minister who is head of government, and a single-chamber parliament. The president, elected by parliament for a five-year term, appoints the prime minister and cabinet. Parliament has 300 members, all elected by universal suffrage for a four-year term, and the prime minister and cabinet are collectively responsible to it. Bills passed by parliament must be ratified by the president, whose veto can be overridden by an absolute majority of the total number of members. In 1986 the constitution was amended, limiting the powers of the president in relation to those of the prime minister.
For ancient history, see Greece, ancient. From the 14th century Greece came under Ottoman Turkish rule, and except for the years 1686–1715, when the Peloponnese was occupied by the Venetians, it remained Turkish until the outbreak of the War of Independence 1821. British, French, and Russian intervention 1827, which brought about the destruction of the Turkish fleet at Navarino, led to the establishment of Greek independence 1829. Prince Otto of Bavaria was placed on the throne 1832; his despotic rule provoked a rebellion 1843, which set up a parliamentary government, and another 1862, when he was deposed and replaced by Prince George of Denmark. Relations with Turkey were embittered by the Greeks' desire to recover Macedonia, Crete, and other Turkish territories with Greek populations. A war 1897 ended in disaster, but the Balkan Wars 1912–13 won most of the disputed areas for Greece.
In a period of internal conflict from 1914, two monarchs were deposed, and there was a republic 1923–25, when a military coup restored George II, who in the following year established a dictatorship under Joannis Metaxas.
An Italian invasion 1940 was successfully resisted, but an intensive attack by Germany 1941 overwhelmed the Greeks. During the German occupation of Greece 1941–44, a communist-dominated resistance movement armed and trained a guerrilla army, and after World War II the National Liberation Front, as it was called, wanted to create a socialist state. If the Greek royalist army had not had massive assistance from the US, under the provisions of the Truman Doctrine, this undoubtedly would have happened. A civil war 1946–49 ended when the royalists defeated the communists. The monarchy was reestablished under King Paul, who was succeeded by his son Constantine 1964.
Dissatisfaction with the government and conflicts between the king and his ministers resulted in a coup 1967, replacing the monarchy with a new regime, which, despite its democratic pretensions, was little more than a military dictatorship, with Col George Papadopoulos as its head. All political activity was banned, and opponents of the government were forced out of public life.
In 1973 Greece declared itself a republic, and Papadopoulos became president. A civilian cabinet was appointed, but before the year was out another coup brought Lt Gen Phaidon Ghizikis to the presidency, with Adamantios Androutsopoulos as prime minister. The government's failure to prevent the Turkish invasion of Cyprus led to its downfall, and a former prime minister, Constantine Karamanlis, was recalled from exile to form a new Government of National Salvation. He immediately ended martial law, press censorship, and the ban on political parties, and in the 1974 general election his New Democracy Party (ND) won a decisive majority in parliament.
A referendum the same year rejected the return of the monarchy, and in 1975 a new constitution for a democratic “Hellenic Republic” was adopted, with Constantine Tsatsos as president. The ND won the 1977 general election with a reduced majority, and in 1980 Karamanlis resigned as prime minister and was elected president. In 1981 Greece became a full member of the European Economic Community (EEC), having been an associate since 1962.
The Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) won an absolute majority in parliament in the 1981 general election. Its leader, Andreas Papandreou, became Greece's first socialist prime minister. PASOK had been elected on a radical socialist platform, which included withdrawal from the EEC, the removal of US military bases, and a program of domestic reform. Important social changes, such as lowering the voting age to 18, the legalization of civil marriage and divorce, and an overhaul of the universities and the army, were carried out; but instead of withdrawing from Europe, Papandreou was content to obtain a modification of the terms of entry, and, rather than close US bases, he signed a five-year agreement on military and economic cooperation. In 1983 he also signed a ten-year economic-cooperation agreement with the USSR.
Despite introducing austerity measures to deal with rising inflation, PASOK won a comfortable majority in the 1985 elections. Criticism of Papandreou grew 1989 when close aides were implicated in a banking scandal. He lost the general elections 1989 and Tzanis Tzannetakis, an ND backbencher, formed Greece's first all-party government for 15 years. However, this soon broke up and after months of negotiation Xenophon Zolotas (PASOK) put together a government of unity, comprising communists, socialists, conservatives, and nonpolitical figures.
Constantine Mitsotakis of the ND was sworn in as the new premier April 1990 and formed a new all-party government after his party failed to win an outright majority in the elections. In June Karamanlis was again elected president. Papandreou was cleared of all corruption charges Jan 1992. In Sept 1993 Mitsotakis dissolved parliament after the ND lost its overall majority (three of its members had defected to the newly formed left-of-center Political Spring party). PASOK won an outright majority in the Oct 1993 elections and Papandreou was returned as prime minister. In March 1995 Costis Stephanopoulos, PASOK's candidate, was elected president.
An agreement on the siting of US bases in Greece was signed 1990. In 1992 Greece refused to recognize the independence declaration of the breakaway Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, saying it implied territorial claims on the Greek province of the same name. The republic was granted United Nations membership under the provisional name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 1993. Athens' decision to impose a trade embargo against Macedonia Feb 1994 brought widespread condemnation, and in April 1994 the European Commission took the unprecedented step of prosecuting Greece in the European Court of Justice.1. (Homonym: grease).
2. A republic in southeastern Europe on the southern part of the Balkan peninsula; known for grapes and olives and olive oil; Also called: Ellas.
3. Unincorporated community in New York (USA).