Foreign relations of Greece

The Middle East

Greece has a special interest in the Middle East because of its geographic position and its economic and historic ties to the area. Greece cooperated with allied forces during the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War. Since 1994, Greece has signed defense cooperation agreements with Israel and Egypt. In recent years, Greek leaders have made numerous trips to the region in order to strengthen bilateral ties and encourage the Middle East Peace Process. In July 1997, December 1997, and July 1998 Greece hosted meetings of Israeli and Palestinian politicians to contribute to the peace process. Also, Greece recognizes the State of Palestine’s sovereignty.


Some terms have or used to have significant importance to Greek foreign policy:

Eastern Thrace

A name for the European part of Turkey, west of Istanbul. This name is usually used by the Greeks, mostly by Greek families that were forced out of that region between 1912 - 1923.

Northern Epirus

Northern Epirus is the historical region of what has become southern Albania where there is a Greek minority of around 300,000. The government of Greece claims that this territory is inhabited mostly by Greeks, whereas the government of Albania maintains that it is Albanian territory with Greek minorities. There are villages in the south of Albania where Greek is the predominant language. There have been many small incidents between the Greek minorities and Albanian authorities over issues such as alleged interference in local southern Albanian politics by the government of Greece, the raising of the Greek flag on Albanian territory, the language taught in school, etc.; however, the issues have for the most part been non-violent.

The religion of the Greek minority is Greek Orthodox whereas a large number of the Albanian population follows the rites of the Albanian Orthodox Church.

The parents of former CIA director George J. Tenet were Greeks from Northern Epirus.


Smyrna (most correctly Smyrni, Σμύρνη) is the Greek/Latin name for the city of Izmir, Turkey.


The word Ένωσις (enosis) is Greek for union. It is primarily used to refer to the unification of Cyprus and Greece, and became a political issue, and a goal of Greek foreign policy, during the years of British colonial rule in Cyprus (1878-1960). In 1864 the British had previously ceded the Ionian islands, which they had administered for fifty years, to the new Kingdom of Greece, and this was taken by supporters of enosis as a precedent for the cession of Hellenic territories to Greece after a period of British administration.

The movement for enosis gained ground in the 1940s and 1950s. In 1954, at the instigation of Greek Cypriot communal leader Archbishop Makarios III, Greece raised the issue of self-determination for Cyprus at the United Nations, with a view to a Cypriot plebiscite on the island's future which, it was widely supposed, would result in a vote for enosis. In 1955, the controversial guerrilla movement EOKA was formed in Cyprus in support of enosis. However, sensitive negotiations between Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom resulted in a fragile independence for Cyprus in 1960 and the new Cypriot President Makarios, formerly a keen advocate of enosis, now preferred to follow a more neutral foreign policy and enosis seemed politically faded. During the presidential campaign for the 1968 elections, Makarios said that enosis was "wishable" whereas independence was "possible". This differentiated him from the hardline pro-enosis elements which formed EOKA-B and participated in a coup against him in 1974. The coup was sponsored by the military government of Greece and was a short-lived failure, triggering an invasion of Cyprus by Turkey which contributed to the collapse of the Athens regime.

Great Greece

Megali Ellas or Megali Ellada (Μεγάλη Ελλάς or Μεγάλη Ελλάδα) -- literally "Great Greece" -- refers to Southern Italy and was used by Ancient Greeks. The Romans used the term "Magna Graecia". This is a historical term, referring mostly to the era of the ancient Greek colonization of the area, and does not apply to modern diplomacy.


The Greeks refer to Istanbul with its older name of Constantinople (Κωνσταντινούπολη), although they also use "I Poli" (The City) colloquially. Constantinople was the capital of the Eastern (ie, Greek) half of the Roman Empire until it's conquest by the Turks in 1453. Greek "εις την Πόλη" (read "iss tin poli") means "to the City" and this is the phrase "Istanbul" derived from.

Black Sea

Black Sea (Μαύρη Θάλασσα), or Euxine Sea (Εύξεινος Πόντος), is the Greek name of Pontus. (Turkish Karadeniz)

Megali Idea

See Megali Idea for a concept that was related to Greek foreign relations in the 20th century.

International organization participation

BIS, CCC, CE, EAPC, EBRD, ECA (associate), ECE, ECLAC, EIB, EMU, EU, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, International Maritime Organization, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, NATO, OECD, OSCE, UN, UN Security Council, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, WEU,WHO, WIPO, WMO.


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