Greece Country Report
After eight years of dependence on foreign loans, Greece achieved a "clean" bailout exit in August 2018 and will seek to finance itself in the bond markets. The implementation of reforms and privatisations and the delivery of agreed budget surpluses will continue to dictate policy direction throughout 2018–19, supplemented by increased international monitoring of Greece's economy. The ruling SYRIZA/ANEL coalition may want to see out its term and restore its popularity, which has suffered amid the struggle to achieve fiscal objectives and implement structural reforms, but developments regarding the name dispute with FYR Macedonia risk triggering a general election in early 2019. Concerning security, the risk of attacks by left-wing militants and anarchists remains elevated,targeting banks, state assets, and Western corporations, primarily in Athens.
Heavy bureaucracy, complicated legal requirements, inefficient state mechanism, and high corruption levels 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. Unions' resistance, politicians' unwillingness to implement unpopular measures, and lack of know-how are likely to hamper progress. Strikes will become less frequent, but will still affect public services (including transport), ports, major roads, border crossings, and companies/sectors that are due to be privatised. The treatment of impaired mortgage debt remains a key regulatory concern: increased provisioning risks leaving the banking sector with a capital shortfall.
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 IEDs, assassinations, 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), and political parties/figures (ex-premier Lucas Papademos, 2017). Throughout 2018, anarchist militant group Rouvikonas has primarily focused on vandalism, attacking a wide range of targets, a trend that is likely to continue.
War risks in Greece stem from disagreements over boundary demarcations with Turkey in the Aegean Sea (maritime and air boundaries), the Cyprus issue, and the name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) Macedonia. 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. However, 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 armed confrontations.
Public spending cuts in reaction to Greece's fiscal and economic challenges sparked frequent nationwide and sectoral protests affecting primarily Athens and Thessaloniki. The size of these protests has decreased since their height in 2010–14, when around 100,000 people often attended rallies. Such protests are likely to remain frequent while Greece needs to maintain high budget surpluses and introduce reforms and privatisations, but their size is gradually decreasing. Protests are likely to turn violent, with anarchists often targeting business premises and fighting with police. Three people died in 2010 when protesters set fire to Marfin Egnatia Bank in Athens.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
No vaccinations are required to enter the country.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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