Foreign Interference in Greek Politics

An Historical Perspective

by Theodore A. Couloumbis, John A. Petropulos and Harry J. Psomiades

Interference by a state in the affairs of another state for purposes of compelling it to adopt or forbear certain policies and to maintain or alter internal conditions has been a recurrent feature of the history of international politics. In the case of modern Greece, foreign interference has been a major feature of its political life. Indeed, any attempt to understand Greek political behavior must include an examination of the policies of those powers who, on numerous occasions, successfully acted as protectors, custodians, influencers, controllers or saviors—in a word, as patrons of Greece.

Interference may refer to two distinct though related processes. The broader of these processes involves the unofficial cultural, ideological, and economic influences from abroad which are absorbed by a society, often unconsciously and in a distorted form, into its goals, values, and habits. The narrower process relates to the conscious interference of the constituent units of the international state system as well as of transnational non-governmental actors or organizations in the affairs of a given state in order to influence its behavior. Its success depends, in large measure, upon the receptiveness of individuals and groups within the state to foreign overtures, based usually on a perceived coincidence of one’s own and foreign interests. The second process also includes initiatives taken by individuals and groups, both in and out of government, to solicit successfully foreign involvement in their affairs.

This study is concerned mainly with the latter process. Its focus is on the role of foreign powers in the formation and conduct of Greek foreign and fiscal policy, in the operation of the Greek political process, and in the development of Greek political institutions. The final chapter of this study is not only a summary of the 155 years of foreign interference in modern Greek politics but also represents an effort, based on the Greek experience, to refine and elaborate further the concept of intereference.

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