The quest for modernization in Greek foreign policy and its limitations

Alexander Kazamias

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15 Citations (Scopus)


The rise of Kostas Simitis and his ‘modernizers’ faction to the leadership of PASOK in January 1996 brought certain changes to Greece's foreign policy. Contrary to the widespread belief that Simitis's impact has steered Greece away from its nationalist foreign policy to a modernist/Europeanist direction, this article argues that such conclusions are premature and simplistic. Instead, it suggests an alternative interpretation whereby Simitis's foreign policy is perceived as predominantly dualistic, combining a westernist with a nationalist orientation with the aim of satisfying the two major competing factions of the social democrats and the populists inside PASOK and among the wider Greek electorate. To the extent that modernization in foreign policy presupposes a commitment to international interdependence as a means of attaining security and domestic socio‐economic development, Simitis's impact has had a modest modernizing effect on Greek foreign policy. Greece still remains largely preoccupied with a dogmatic attachment to the western alliance through which it aspires to fulfil the role of a dominant power in the Balkan region to counter Turkey's expansionism. In this sense, the elements of continuity with Andreas Papandreou's nationalism remain considerable, while most of the change has been invested in reinstating Greece's westernist diplomatic tradition associated with the liberalism of Karamanlis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-94
Number of pages14
JournalMediterranean Politics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1997


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