In the years prior to the current crisis, Greece appeared to be politically secure and economically healthy. As Professor Kalyvas explains (Understanding modern Greece: Q&A) Greece has frequently innovated, overcoming disasters and performing above expectations. It has a consistent record of punching above its weight.
It was the first ‘new’ nation to emerge out of the Ottoman Empire and it spearheaded an early democratic revolution, ushering in a long stretch of stable parliamentary rule. The country’s economic takeoff in the 1950s was so impressive that it became known as the “Greek economic miracle“.
And the 1974 transition to democracy set an example of how to peacefully exit autocracy and prosecute its leaders. But when Greece’s economic troubles began to threaten the stability of the European Union in 2010, the nation found itself in the center of a whirlwind of international finger-pointing.
Greece was certainly not the only country hit hard by the recession, but nevertheless the entire world turned its focus toward it for a simple reason: the possibility of a Greek exit from the European Monetary Union, and its potential to unravel the entire Union.
Other books by Stathis N. Kalyvas: