Greece is more than the latest headlines of the day. While the European financial crisis has dominated newspapers across the world, the importance of Greece reaches far beyond economics. Greece is a key strategic ally of the United States and Hellenism plays a vital role in our civic society. A strong, stable Greece is vital to security in the region.
1. Debt relief is the only way Greece can get back on its feet: Austerity-only policies don't work.
Greece received billions of euros in bailout funds, but a large part of why austerity hasn’t worked in Greece is because it wasn’t offset by any viable growth strategy. In fact, Greece’s bailout funds at one time were simply wired into an escrow account that the government couldn’t touch and then wired back for debt service to European banks just days later (read the NYT report here). In other words, not only was there painful cuts, but any money coming into the country was initially spent almost exclusively on debt reduction rather than on stimulating the economy. Significant cuts and major structural reforms were certainly necessary in Greece, but it is now without debate (as even the IMF has admitted) that the pace and depth of cuts and the lack of any corresponding growth plan have plunged Greece deeper into its economic crisis.
2. A stable, prosperous Greece is vital to security in the region: Europe needs Greece.
Greece itself is an indispensable ally for the United States. Despite the perceived “weakness” of Greece due to the debt crisis, it remains undisputed that Greece continues to be the most strategic American ally in the Southeastern Mediterranean. The importance of Greece as a strategic security ally was probably best demonstrated during World War II, when Greece undertook a historic armed resistance during the Italian and German invasions in the summer of 1941. Although Greece was eventually defeated, the battle proved to be a turning point in the war with some saying the outcome of WWII would have been uncertain had the Greeks not resisted. It was Greece’s resounding “no” to fascism and tyranny that prompted Winston Churchill to say that “hence we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks.” Due to its strategic location at the crossroads of two continents, Greece continues to be of vital important to global security. The United States and Greece have enjoyed close bilateral relations on all matters spanning from security to economy to cultural matters.
3. Greece is back: Now is the time to invest in Greece and its people.
With the tourism sector constituting 20% of Greece’ economy, it’s the memories that tourist make while visiting Greece that are the country’s most valuable export. After several years of lower-than-anticipated tourism revenues, 2013 and 2014 have seen tourism in Greece skyrocket, with record number of tourists visiting both the mainland and the island and injecting much-needed capital into local economies. Greece is set to exit its bailout program and return to the markets, and has made notable improvements in its fiscal accounting system. Privatization is proceeding, new EU development funds are being pumped into the Greek private sector, and the Greek government has committed to building an active film industry and high tech sector. The United States is the featured country in the 2018 Thessaloniki International Fair, and there may not be a better time for American investors to come to Greece.