Simitis’s ‘legacy’

Today, as we witness the completion of a political cycle, we can attempt a brief appraisal. It is true that Simitis’s term in government leaves behind some positive elements, the most fundamental being that it succeeded in dismissing a general sense of awe about Europe, as he steered the country in a more European direction. Indeed, with our accession to the eurozone, we gained a useful yardstick and a clear focus on our future goals. Simitis’s persistent progress in this direction constitutes perhaps the most significant achievement of his eight-year term, along with the policy change regarding relations with Turkey. Indeed, despite the risks it entails for successive governments, the policy of rapprochement with Ankara is undoubtedly one of the initiatives that distinguish Simitis from his predecessor Andreas Papandreou and allowed Cyprus’s smooth accession into the EU, which can only have a positive influence on the island. The infrastructure works undertaken across Greece could also be included on the list of Simitis’s positive achievements, if they weren’t so expensive and directly linked to corruption and business interests. And here begins the long list of negative repercussions of Simitis’s governments, which eventually obliged him to abandon pre-election preparations just a few weeks before polls and hand the torch to the likeable, but politically inexperienced by comparison, and thus enthusiastic, Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

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