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02/03/2006 15:53 Local Time 
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Greece [Hellas]

Greece
President
Konstantinos Stephanopoulos
Head of Government: Prime Minister Konstantinos Simitis
Foreign Minister: Georgios Papandreou
Area: 132,000 km2
Population: 10,964,020 (2001)
Language: Greek
Capital: Athens
Euro: Euro
GDP per capita: 11,974 €
GDP growth: 4.1% (2001)

Constitution - Domestic politics

Greece became a parliamentary republic in 1974 following a referendum that abolished the monarchy. The President is elected for a five-year term and has a largely ceremonial role. Legislative power lies with the single-chamber Parliament of 300 members elected by universal direct suffrage for a four-year term.

The April 2000 general election was marginally won by the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK). It was the first time in decades that a party had won three consecutive national elections. Prime Minister Costas Simitis has pledged to continue the policy of economic reconstruction, as the government endeavours to tackle unemployment, enhance investment conditions and improve the country’s infrastructures.

Economy

Through systematic efforts, Greece has succeeded in significantly strengthening its previously unstable economy, enabling participation in EMU as of January 2001. Both the rate of inflation and the budget deficit have been brought within the limits stipulated in the Maastricht Treaty.

Although the contribution of the primary sector to GDP has declined in recent years, the sector is still the largest in the EU, accounting for 8.5-10% of GDP, well above the EU average of around 2.5%. In recent years, industry has contributed 22-24% of GDP. The services sector accounts for over 70% of GDP.

Greece’s efforts to achieve economic decentralisation have been greatly facilitated by infrastructure improvements financed under the Public Investment Program as well as the EU’s Community Support Frameworks.

Foreign Policy

The focus of Greek foreign policy is on political and economic cooperation in the EU, membership of NATO and cooperation with its Balkan neighbours. Greece wishes to further strengthen its already leading role in the economic development of the Balkan region and strongly supports the integration of the Balkan states in existing European structures.

Relations with Turkey have been the main foreign policy issue for many years. The close neighbours have long been at odds over territorial disputes in the Aegean and the divided island of Cyprus. The Greek government has initiated a process of confidence-building with Turkey and although business cooperation has been strengthened and diplomatic contacts have become much more frequent, disagreement remains unresolved in certain key areas.

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