OPINION

Five challenges for the government

five-challenges-for-the-government

Preventing further wildfires and more damage to Greek forestland, along with providing support to affected communities, managing a surge in Covid-19 cases as holidaymakers return to urban centers, the course of the national economy after the ephemeral boost of tourism, relations with Turkey, also with regard to the Cyprus problem, and fresh migration-refugee challenges: The Greek government will have to master a daunting agenda after the summer. 

With respect to the blazes, damage assessment by state engineers and the compensation procedure are both under way. A lot will depend on the authorities’ speed and efficiency. At the same time, the attention of a more environmentally sensitive public will be focused on the institutional steps required to protect forests while ending land-grabbing and illegal construction.

Meanwhile, the spike in coronavirus cases during the holiday season and the return of Greek and foreign travelers combined with the reopening of schools and the sluggish vaccination rate are likely to put the health system under renewed strain. Stricter measures will have to be taken with the aim of avoiding a fresh lockdown, which is a nonstarter for the economy. Meanwhile, authorities will need to unroll a new vaccination campaign (even more necessary after the Tsitsipas fiasco), mostly targeting children and the need for part of the population to have a booster shot.

In terms of the economy, autumn will be time for a reality check. The end of the summer season and the liquidity shot offered by tourism (August figures were the exception amid a rather gloomy picture) will find many small and medium-sized businesses in a difficult position. On top of the need for a well-planned government policy, Greece will need the swift and targeted use of European funds in order to sustain its hopes of recovery.

A fourth key challenge for the government will be relations with Turkey. After a relatively calm summer, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s real intentions will start to emerge. Will there be new provocations, will the exploratory talks lead to the realistic pursuit of solutions, possibly via international arbitration? The Cyprus issue will be in the spotlight too, also in the wake of Turkey’s unilateral actions in Varosha which sparked a wave of international reactions.