Greece: From Overt Military Activism to Democratic Normality
- Dimitris TsarouhasDimitris TsarouhasDepartment of International Relations, Bilkent University
Greek civil-military relations (CMR) have been fraught with tension and conflict for a long time, almost since the country’s independence in 1830. A high number of military coups and mutual mistrust between political elites and military officers characterized periods of civilian rule for most of the 20th century. However, and that is what makes the Greek case especially interesting, the restoration of democratic rule after the last military coup in 1967 has been both swift and successful. Ever since 1974, Greece’s CMR have stabilized along the archetypal examples of advanced Western democracies.
Interpreting this impressive transformation of Greek CMR is an exercise that needs to bring together distinct factors: the country’s historical evolution, its political transformation, and its economic development. When in 1974 the Cyprus fiasco exposed the colonels’ regime as inept and incapable of defending the country’s national interests, the country was politically ready for a smooth transition to institutional normality. External factors, such as the prospect of European Union (EU) membership, assisted the country’s civilian leadership by offering Greece a path toward economic prosperity and political stability. For all of the country’s economic problems in the early 21st century, that path has been followed consistently ever since