The Greek Paradox: Promise vs. Performance

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The Greek Paradox: Promise vs. Performance

Edited by Graham T. Allison and Kalypso Nicolaedis
MIT Press, 1997
182 pp. $15.00
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Nicolaedis explains in a crisp and comprehensive introduction that the "Greek paradox" is the gap between promise and potential on the one hand, performance and policies on the other. The problems include addiction to charismatic political figures, a bloated public sector and bureaucracy, a society manipulated by the state's spoils system, a vast budget deficit, a "closed system of privilege," and a foreign policy more concerned with Greek rights than with Greek long-term interests. These flaws have often made Greece unpopular within the EU, and its anti-Macedonian and pro- Serbian policies have put it at odds with many of its NATO allies. The contributors are "modernizers," who want Greece to become a full-fledged partner in European economic integration. As Elizabeth Prodromou notes, Greece's Orthodox religious tradition has hindered neither the country's democratization over the past two- and-a-half decades nor Greece's membership in NATO; the so-called "clash of civilizations" is irrelevant here, as Greek history is both Western and Orthodox. Greece's performance will be improved by the kinds of reforms Loukas Tsoukalis advocates in taxation, social security, the civil service, and the public sector, by a long-term and more imaginative approach to Turkey, and by efforts to create a more civic-minded civil society. Clearly, some of Greece's problems result from its geographical position and its troubled history. But others are very similar to those faced by other Mediterranean EU members.