After rising two places in last year’s Soft Power 30 index, Greece maintains 23rd position just ahead of Poland, backed by a solid showing across most sub-indices. Its recovering economy continues to be the main story, and recovering it truly is. In June, the eurozone granted a raft of new debt relief measures to Greece. This effectively means that, as of 20 August 2018, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras can say that his country is again standing on its own two feet. That said, while the bailout is coming to an end, many have argued (the IMF included) that the problem of repayment has merely been pushed from the medium to the long-term. Greece’s other main problem is arguably a more positive one. Projected figures show the Hellenic Republic is set to welcome a record 32 million tourists in 2018, more than double the number who visited in 2010. No other European destination has seen a larger increase in visitors, although Greece’s aging infrastructure is already showing signs of creaking under the strain of such an influx. Tourism is undoubtedly the jewel of Greece’s economy, with its rich history and culture. But questions remain around the government’s ability to host the visiting hoards while keeping the locals happy. The exodus of Greek economic migrants has slowed in the past year, but talented people are still leaving in droves. There may still be a way to go before Greece’s recovery is given a more sustainable footing.
Greece’s strongest performance is in the polling, with respondents ranking the country on a par with Singapore (albeit for markedly differing reasons) and comfortably ahead of South American big-hitters Brazil and Argentina. International perceptions of Greece do seem to be recovering in parallel to its economy, proven by the surge in tourists eager to experience the country first-hand.
Contrary to expectations, Greece has dragged itself up two places from 30th in last year’s Enterprise sub-index, but its score remains dangerously low. The government must quickly demonstrate how it plans to boost business in a post-bailout world. Greece’s lowest score this year is in the Digital sub-index, falling a significant seven places. Digital diplomacy should not be overlooked by the government, particularly as relations with its powerful neighbour in the East continue to sour.
It is one of the world’s oldest established civilisations, and its historic landmarks are unrivalled, but Greece still lags in promoting itself to the world. A more creative approach to revealing its existing soft power assets would do wonders for Greece’s international standing, particularly if coupled with a strong pro-innovation and pro-business message that highlights the country’s accelerating road to recovery.