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Greece Country Report

Country Risk Level

Medium

Overview

Executive Summary

The COVID-19 virus pandemic, and the containment measures implemented to contain the outbreak, will lead to a very large decline in economic activity in 2020. Tourism activity will be particularly hit, but the virus containment measures in Greece and abroad will also lead to substantially lower external demand for Greek goods and weaker consumption levels. Following a substantial GDP contraction of around 10% in 2020, we expect the economy to partially rebound in 2021, recording 3.8% GDP growth, assuming there is no second wave of COVID-19 infections in late 2020.The centre-right New Democracy (Nea Dimokratia: ND) government controls an absolute majority of 158 seats in the 300-seat parliament, allowing the swift adoption of policies. The government has adopted measures to mitigate the COVID-19 virus pandemic’s impact, including additional healthcare spending and targeted tax cuts. It will further utilise EU funds to implement COVID-19 virus-related social policies. Despite the widening of the fiscal deficit, the ND will be keen to use fiscal policy to support Greece’s recovery and fulfil its electoral promise to gradually lower taxes. We do not expect a discretionary tightening of fiscal policy at least until 2022.The government will probably continue with planned privatisations, including in the energy sector, and streamline the implementation of large infrastructure projects, albeit delays are likely. The shock impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to increase momentum for restructuring of Greece’s relatively inefficient public administration, and future cuts to public-sector workers' salaries are likely.Naval incidents with Turkey, such as collisions, are likely, but these are unlikely to escalate to full-scale war. Incidents involving left-wing militants and anarchist groups targeting embassies, state institutions, and parked vehicles with low-level IEDs and arson are likely. Usually, anti-government demonstrations in Athens and Thessaloniki pose a risk of damage to building fronts and vehicles. Anti-migrant protests pose an elevated risk to migrant accommodation facilities.

Operational Outlook

Heavy bureaucracy, complicated legal requirements, inefficient state mechanisms, and a high risk of corruption put Greece among the worst EU performers for ease of doing business, below several Western Balkan countries. Corruption is particularly persistent in the public sector. Trade union resistance and probable patchy implementation are likely to hamper progress on reforms. There is a high risk of strikes affecting public services (including transport), ports, major roads, border crossings, and companies/sectors that are due to be privatised.

Terrorism

Greece has the highest frequency of domestic terrorist attacks in Western Europe, staged by far-left militants and anarchist groups. Over the past few years, several splinter groups have surfaced, using rudimentary IEDs, hand grenades, drive-by shootings, timed incendiary devices, and letter-bombs. Their priority targets include multinational corporations (plans to attack COSCO in 2017), foreign embassies (the French embassy, 2018), financial institutions (Eurobank, 2017), law enforcement (Athens court, 2018), political parties/figures (ex-premier Lucas Papademos, 2017), and the media (Skai TV, 2018). In the past two years, anarchist militant group Rouvikonas has primarily focused on vandalism, attacking a wide range of targets, a trend that is likely to continue.

Crime

Organised criminal groups operate in Greece and their operations will continue to focus mainly on drug and human trafficking, smuggling, robberies, theft, counterfeiting, and forgery. The issue of extortion will also remain a problem, with the gangs particularly targeting small businesses, such as shops, cafes, restaurants, and nightclubs. Nonetheless, the law enforcement agencies have cracked down on several groups in the past few years, while intra-regional co-operation, particularly in fighting terrorism and organised crime, has also improved. There has been a slight decrease in recorded serious crime, while petty crimes and theft have increased.

War Risks

War risks in Greece stem from disagreements over boundary demarcations with Turkey in the Aegean Sea (maritime and air boundaries) and the Cyprus issue. Maritime and aviation disputes, and disagreements over patrolling rights, will pose risks to military ships and to hydrocarbon exploration and other vessels in the eastern Aegean Sea, but a full-scale military conflict is unlikely. All involved parties are members or candidate countries of the same international and regional organisations (such as the European Union, NATO, the Council of Europe, and the OSCE), reducing the risk of these disputes evolving into a military conflict.

Social Stability

High

A public assembly bill passed in July 2020 is likely to reduce the frequency and participation rates of large-scale protests. Still, privatisations and public administration and labour reforms are likely to trigger protests by unions in the two-year outlook, affecting primarily Athens and Thessaloniki. The size of these protests is likely to remain smaller than at their height in 2010–16, when around 100,000 people often attended rallies. Protests are likely to turn violent, with anarchists sometimes targeting business premises and fighting with police. Three people died in 2010 when protesters set fire to Marfin Egnatia Bank in Athens. Anti-migrant protests are likely on the Aegean Islands and in northern Greece.

Health Risk

Vaccinations required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

Meningococcal Meningitis: For prolonged stays, or in case your travels will put you in close contact with a local population affected by an epidemic of the disease (for children over the age of two years).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Natural Risks

Greece is exposed to some natural risks due to its geographical location.

The country is in a highly active seismic zone; in 1999, a powerful earthquake (magnitude 5.9 on the Richter scale) occurred near Athens, killing 150 people. A 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck near Kos on July 21, killing two people and injuring more than 100 others. Several older buildings were damaged and thousands of tourists visiting the island were forced to evacuate their hotels. Kos International Airport (KGS) suffered some damage, disrupting operations for several weeks, along with ferry services.

Floods also often strike the country during the spring and winter months.

Forest fires frequently occur in summer months throughout Greece due to high temperatures and dry winds. A state of emergency was declared on the island of Kythira in August 2017 due to wildfires.  

Practical Information

Climate

Greece has a Mediterranean climate which is regularly tempered in coastal regions by maritime winds. Temperatures can be scorching in the summer (40°C to 45°C). Winters are mild in the south and a bit colder in the northwest (mountainous region). The country receives its highest levels of rainfall in the winter.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +30
Police: 100
Ambulance: 166
Fire Dept.: 199

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal