After maintaining its position for the previous two indices, Greece has fallen two places in this year’s index to 25, behind Poland and Czechia. There have been significant political developments in Greece this year – the July 2019 snap elections saw centre-right party New Democracy win in a landslide, elevating leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis to Prime Minister. Elected on promises of rejuvenating the economy, it is yet to be seen whether Mitsotakis will keep them – but the election of Greece’s first truly post-bailout government has excited foreign leaders, who widely respect the new PM. Despite Greece’s fall in the rankings, if the new government delivers what it promises: reform that is attractive to both international investors and young Greeks who face the burden of high levels of unemployment, then it does not seem unreasonable to suggest that Greece may yet rise again.
Considered by many to be the cradle of civilisation, Greece’s culture continues to be its most valuable asset, attracting tourists from across the globe, though numbers have slightly dipped below their peak in 2018. A significant increase in education, up three places from 2018, reflects the conclusion of the National Education Policy Plan, which aimed to reduce drop-out rates and improve the quality of teaching.
Greece continues to struggle with digital diplomacy, remaining dangerously close to the bottom of the sub-index at 29th. As tensions between Greece and its eastern neighbour continue to increase, and international institutions are increasingly drawn into the dispute, digital diplomacy could provide a useful tool to clearly state Greek priorities.
To reach its previous heights and surpass them, Greece should focus its efforts on improving its digital diplomacy, which would complement and enhance its strong cultural recognition. The new administration presents Greece with ample opportunity to reveal its soft power assets to the world and shake off the image of austerity that has dogged it since the bailout.