Episodi

  • The European Parliament elections held in Greece on June 9 produced a few surprises, some of which could be significant for the country's political scene over the next few months and years.

    The ruling centre-right party, New Democracy, performed worse than opinion polls had suggested and fell below the bar set by its leader, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The main opposition parties, leftist SYRIZA and socialist PASOK, had mixed nights but failed to make any major progress, raising questions about what the future holds for the Greek centre-left.

    The far right appeared to be the major beneficiary of the voting patterns in these elections, but a closer inspection of the numbers tells a more complicated story.

    MacroPolis co-founder Yiannis Mouzakis and features editor Georgia Nakou step into The Agora to discuss the twists and turns produced by this vote, which was marked by a record low turnout.

    Useful reading

    Greece’s centre-right wins but with heavy losses - Euractiv

    Greek PM hints at cabinet reshuffle after EU vote disappointment - Reuters

    Where did all the far-right votes in the EU, but also in Greece, come from? - Kathimerini


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  • Greece is preparing to welcome a record number of tourists again this year, but their visits will take place against a backdrop of growing concern among locals about the damage being done to the islands and their way of life by rapid development.

    Greek policy makers face a dilemma over how to balance the growth and job creation provided by tourism, a vital industry for the local economy, against the fear that going down this path too fast and too far is ultimately unsustainable.

    Journalist Yannis Palaiologos joins us on The Agora to discuss these issues. Yannis is part of the team behind the Sustainable Cyclades media project, which has been reporting on the impact that overtourism and development has been having on the Aegean islands and their residents.

    Useful reading

    Sustainable Cyclades

    Local Greeks pushed out as mass tourism takes over Athens - France 24

    'Without rules we cannot live’: Greece seeks ways to tackle ‘overtourism’ - Al Jazeera


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  • After going through a really difficult time during the country’s long economic crisis, the Greek property market is booming, but that's creating a whole new set of problems.

    High rental and purchase prices are pricing out much of the local population as foreign investors snap up apartments and entire buildings in pursuit of profits.

    Host Nick Malkoutzis is joined by Stelios Bouras, a journalist who covers real estate and other economic issues for the Business Daily, to discuss a range of issues linked to the new conditions in the housing market - rising prices, a revival of construction and the much-debated Golden Visa scheme.

    Useful reading

    Inside one of Europe’s last golden visa programmes and what’s set to change - EuroNews

    Local Greeks pushed out as mass tourism takes over Athens - France24

    What is driving the Greek housing market's recovery? - MacroPolis


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  • In the wake of the Covid pandemic, the European Union launched the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) - a package of around 700 billion euros to help member states recover from the economic impact and build for the future.

    Greece's portion of these funds is considered vital for the country's efforts to overcome the effects of its long economic crisis, as well as the disruption caused by the pandemic.

    The Greek government dubbed its RRF-related scheme "Greece 2.0", claiming it would help transform the country.

    A couple of years in, how is Greece 2.0 performing? Has it had a transformative effect? How much money is Greece absorbing and where is it being invested?

    These are some of the questions that Nick Malkoutzis and MacroPolis features editor Georgia Nakou attempt to answer in this episode.

    Useful Reading

    MacroPolis - Great Expectations: Is Greece 2.0 hitting the target?


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  • Phoebe and Nick are back to examine the contrasting images of Greece abroad and how they sit side by side.

    A few months ago, rating agencies started to restore the investment grade for Greece's sovereign debt - more than a decade after it was lost. It was a reflection of the growing confidence that markets have in the political situation, the government's policy choices and the country's prospects.

    However, while this has been happening, there has been growing concern about the rule of law and effectiveness of justice in Greece. There have been several debates about these issues in the European Parliament, while rights groups have also raised the alarm.

    The Agora spoke to Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of political risk advisory at Teneo, to discuss why investors feel they can trust Greece again and how this renewed faith can sit alongside the complaints about transparency and accountability.

    Useful links

    Greece is investment grade again – why it matters to keep it - ESM

    Parliament concerned about very serious threats to EU values in Greece - European Parliament press release

    2023 Rule of Law Report - European Commission


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  • In February 2023, a freight train and a train carrying dozens of passengers crashed in Tempe, central Greece, killing 57 people. A year on from Greece's deadliest train accident, many questions remain unanswered and doubts are growing about whether the truth will ever come to light regarding what caused the disaster.

    Opposition parties and relatives of the victims, many of whom were university students, feel that the Greek authorities are preventing a proper investigation into the incident, while also dodging their responsibility.

    In fact, an opinion poll (Alco) published just after this episode was recorded indicated that 77 pct of Greeks feel there is a cover-up going on, while just 11 pct think there is no question of political responsibility.

    Phoebe and Nick summarise what we know about the accident and its aftermath, while Nektaria Stamouli, Politico's Eastern Mediterranean correspondent and Kathimerini English Edition deputy editor, joins us on The Agora to discuss why there are such strong concerns about a cover-up and what implications this has.

    Useful links

    Trauma (audio documentary) - IMEdD

    Greece rejected EU prosecutor’s call for action against 2 ex-ministers after rail crash - Politico

    A year after Greece’s worst train disaster, railway safety fears persist - Reuters


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  • Five years ago SYRIZA was in power in Greece, but it is currently languishing in third place in the opinion polls and the nascent leadership of Stefanos Kasselakis is being constantly buffeted by internal disputes.

    In this episode, Phoebe Fronista and Nick Malkoutzis set out how the left-wing party ended up in this uncomfortable position. Nick also speaks to MacroPolis co-founder Yiannis Mouzakis and features editor Georgia Nakou about Kasselakis's unusual approach and the recent stormy party conference, which almost resulted in another leadership contest.

    Useful links

    Kassalekis goes from blank canvas to empty vessel, blowing open progressive space - MacroPolis

    The modern left for progressive governance - LSE Hellenic Observatory

    Greece’s New Political Star Is a TikTok Creation - Wired

    He’s Gone From Miami, to Celebrity, to Upending Greek Politics - New York Times

    Greece’s main opposition party cracks up some more - Politico


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  • Phoebe Fronista and Nick Malkoutzis return after a prolonged absence to discuss what's behind Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis's political dominance in Greece and whether things are more complex than they look.

    Their discussion was prompted by a piece Nick wrote recently for The Agora on MacroPolis's website after listening to Mitsotakis speak at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where the Greek PM shed light on the political strategy that has helped his centre-right New Democracy party comfortably see off its opponents.

    As Nick and Phoebe discuss, this success cannot be separated from the Greek context because serious problems with the opposition, media and institutions have provided Mitsotakis with considerable assistance.

    Useful reading

    Rule of Law and Media Freedom in Greece - European Parliament

    Stemming the Tide of Greek Media Freedom Decline - MFRR

    Corruption Perceptions Index (Greece) - Transparency International

    A Greek form of Triangulation - MacroPolis


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  • This episode of The Agora involves a departure from our normal format as we mark 10 years since MacroPolis was launched.

    During that time, so much has happened in Greece: The debt crisis, political turmoil, social upheaval, the migration crisis, diplomatic breakthroughs and impasses, and natural disasters.

    So, with the help of 10 friends and colleagues, we looked back on their most memorable moments of the last decade in Greece.

    Thanks to Alexandra Voudouri, Georgia Nakou, Omaira Gill, Jens Bastian, Marcus Walker, Yiannis Palaiologos, Megan Greene, Joanna Kakissis, Nikos Skoutaris and Mariangela Paone for taking part in this episode and providing such a rich and diverse array of recollections.


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  • Storm Daniel hit Greece in early September, leading to almost 20 deaths and widespread destruction, as well as recriminations about whether there had been sufficient warnings and anti-flood works.

    The villages and communities of Mount Pelion were among the worst affected by the extreme weather. Tourists and locals lost their lives, infrastructure was damaged, buildings were demolished and businesses had to close.

    To start of series 5 of The Agora, we spoke to Joel von Trapp, an American architect who has been living and working in Pelion for many years. Joel spoke to us about how the area, which is also a popular tourist destination, has been coping in the aftermath of the storm.


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  • For our final episode of the fourth series of The Agora, we take a look at what is happening just across the Aegean from Greece, where Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is back for a third term and already prompting questions about whether he is shifting his foreign policy.

    In the wake of the recent NATO summit, where he withdrew objections to Sweden joining the military alliance, but also seemed to gain concessions, especially in relation to the supply of F-16 jets from the USA, analysts are trying to work out what we can expect from the Turkish leader.

    This issue is very relevant to Greece as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has indicated that he wants to engage in meaningful talks with Ankara, aiming to even settle longstanding disputes between the two neighbours.

    To get a better understanding of what Erdogan is thinking and how he is likely to operate, The Agora co-host Nick Malkoutzis spoke to Ilhan Uzgel, a former professor of International Relations at Ankara University and currently a foreign policy analyst and commentator in Turkey.


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  • On the night of June 14, a fishing boat called the Adriana, packed with hundreds of migrants who had paid traffickers to get them from Libya to Italy, sank in the deep waters of the Mediterranean, about 90 kilometers southwest of the town of Pylos in the Peloponnese.

    It was one of the worst tragedies of its kind ever witnessed in Greece and Europe. What makes the Pylos shipwreck such a standout case, though, is that it seems this tragedy could have been avoided.

    A series of reports by international and local media suggest that the Greek coast guard, and possibly the EU border agency, Frontex, could have done more to prevent so many people drowning.

    The Agora spoke to independent journalist Lydia Emmanouilidou, who has been covering the story, to find out what survivors told her and to discuss how and why the ship sank and what questions that has raised about how the authorities responded.

    We also hear from Valentina Brinis, a project manager at Open Arms, which is an NGO based in Barcelona that uses its own vessel to save migrants in distress in the Mediterranean.

    Useful reading

    Everyone Knew the Migrant Ship Was Doomed. No One Helped - The New York Times

    Greek shipwreck: hi-tech investigation suggests coastguard responsible for sinking - The Guardian

    Greek coastguard 'pressured' disaster survivors to blame Egyptian men - BBC News

    Italy warned of dead children on migrant ship hours before it capsized - Politico

    Greece to the EU: Come help stop migrant boats before they get here - Politico

    Migrant crossings in Mediterranean leave thousands dead - Reuters


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  • At the second time of asking, Kyriakos Mitsotakis has been re-elected as the Greek Prime Minister and his centre-right New Democracy party has won a second term in office.

    The June 25 elections saw the conservatives cruise to an eight-seat majority in Parliament as the collapse of their main rival, left-wing SYRIZA, continued.

    However, the results were notable for the emergence of three fringe parties, two on the far right. They managed to pass the 3 pct threshold for electing MPs to take the total number of groupings in Greek Parliament to eight.

    In this episode of The Agora, co-host Nick Malkoutzis and MacroPolis co-founder Yiannis Mouzakis discuss what the result means for how Mitsotakis will govern over the next four years, where it leaves SYRIZA and the third party, centre-left PASOK, why the far right is back and how the fringe parties could impact policy making in Greece.

    Useful reading

    Greece’s conservatives win election majority to secure second term - https://www.politico.eu/article/greece-election-new-democracy-conservatives-win-second-term-kyriakos-mitsotakis/

    Greek Conservatives Score Decisive Election Win - https://www.wsj.com/articles/greek-conservatives-on-course-for-emphatic-election-win-d7dc0582?st=rlp7aawlgzm3ta1

    Populist Right Finds Fertile Ground in Greece - https://agendapublica.elpais.com/noticia/18682/populist-right-finds-fertile-ground-greece

    Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ skills and luck - https://www.ekathimerini.com/opinion/1214127/kyriakos-mitsotakis-skills-and-luck/

    Why Greece's Left May Give Conservatives A Smooth Sail To Victory - https://www.huffpost.com/entry/greece-left-election_n_6492a754e4b041b71a12c681

    Do or die - https://www.ips-journal.eu/topics/democracy-and-society/do-or-die-6794/


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  • Greeks are voting again in national elections on June 25 after an inconclusive ballot on May 21.

    New Democracy is set to return to power following a big victory last month. The results have raised lots of questions for the main opposition parties, SYRIZA and PASOK, but were also notable for the emergence of some new small parties.

    Lamprini Rori, an assistant professor in political analysis at Athens University, joins us on The Agora to discuss these issues with Nick Malkoutzis and to look ahead to what the next four years might look like for the incoming government.

    Also, Phoebe Fronista speaks to Kelly Kiki, project manager at the media incubator iMEdD, about a project using artificial intelligence to analyse the speeches of Greece's political leaders.


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  • The national elections held on May 21 in Greece produced a landslide victory for the ruling centre-right party, which posted a winning margin of more than 20 points over its main rival, left-wing SYRIZA.

    As the dust settles from this resounding victory for Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, The Agora host Nick Malkoutzis gathers with MacroPolis co-founder Yiannis Mouzakis and features editor Georgia Nakou to discuss what contributed to this result.

    They examine what New Democracy got right, where it went wrong for SYRIZA and what the coming weeks could bring for centre-left PASOK as it eyes a comeback.

    Useful reading 

    Greece’s conservatives achieve big victory but fall short of majority - https://www.politico.eu/article/greece-election-mitsotakis-new-democracy-syriza-vote/

    Mitsotakis needs new elections, SYRIZA a new direction - https://agendapublica.elpais.com/noticia/18602/mitsotakis-needs-new-elections-syriza-new-direction

    SYRIZA’s strategic defeat calls for strategic decisions - https://www.ekathimerini.com/opinion/1211639/syrizas-strategic-defeat-calls-for-strategic-decisions/

    PASOK emerges as the real big winner - https://www.ekathimerini.com/opinion/1211640/pasok-emerges-as-the-real-big-winner/


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  • Greece is holding general elections on Sunday, May 21. The vote might lack the drama of previous elections, when the country’s fate was on the line amid a devastating economic crisis, but it could still end up being a rather complicated and tense process.

    The Agora returns to examine the key issues going into this ballot, who the main players are, what the parties are promising, how the vote might turn out and why Greece could need a second election, if not a third as well, to choose a workable government this summer.

    Hosts Nick Malkoutzis and Phoebe Fronista are joined by Angelos Seriatos, head of political & social research at Greek polling firm ProRata, and MacroPolis co-founder Yiannis Mouzakis and our features editor Georgia Nakou to discuss all these issues.

    Useful reading 

    Extremely complex yet surprisingly simple - https://www.ips-journal.eu/topics/democracy-and-society/extremely-complex-yet-surprisingly-simple-6699/

    Past austerity haunts Greek election as voters struggle with living costs - https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/past-austerity-haunts-greek-election-voters-struggle-with-living-costs-2023-05-15/

    Greek PM says country has changed, seeks new mandate to speed up growth - https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/greek-pm-says-country-has-changed-seeks-new-mandate-speed-up-growth-2023-05-16/

    Once Europe’s Headache, Greece Finds Its Feet - https://www.wsj.com/articles/once-europes-headache-greece-finds-its-feet-dbe9b73c


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  • After decades of making little progress in securing the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum, Greece appears to be edging closer to a possible deal for the repatriation of the ancient sculptures.

    Last December, Greek daily newspaper Ta Nea reported that Greek government officials, including Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, had held talks with the British Museum’s chair, George Osborne, about coming to an arrangement for the Marbles to be sent back.

    Further details of what this agreement might look like were reported by the Financial Times recently.

    The Agora caught up with Ta Nea’s London correspondent, Yiannis Andritsopoulos, to find out more about these talks, whether a deal really is in the offing and what any agreement would likely entail.

    Before that, though, hosts Phoebe Fronista and Nick Malkoutzis look back at the longstanding Greek request for the return of these priceless cultural artifacts, how that campaign has evolved over many years and how it has taken on a political hue at times.


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  • Recently Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis dismissed concerns about media independence in his country and labelled the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) assessment of Greece as lying in 108th place in the organisation's annual World Press Freedom Index as "crap".

    In this episode, Nick Malkoutzis and Phoebe Fronista look into why Greece has scored so badly in the RSF ranking and try to find exactly where the problem with Greece's media lies.

    They speak to Pavol Szalai, the head of EU/Balkans Desk at RSF, about why Greece scores worse than every other EU country when it comes to media freedom.

    Also, Yannis Palaiologos, a former Brussels correspondent for Kathimerini newspaper, discusses whether the RSF index provides a true reflection of the shortcomings of journalism in Greece.

    Useful reading

    RSF World Press Freedom Index: https://rsf.org/en/rsf-s-2022-world-press-freedom-index-new-era-polarisation

    RSF's factfile on Greece: https://rsf.org/en/country/greece

    A game for press freedom in Greece by Stavros Malichudis: https://wearesolomon.com/mag/accountability/a-game-for-press-freedom-in-greece/

    How Greece became Europe’s worst place for press freedom by Nektaria Stamouli: https://www.politico.eu/article/greece-became-europe-worst-place-press-freedom/

    A State of Absolute Solitude by Tassos Telloglou: https://www.boell.de/en/2022/12/08/state-absolute-solitude

    Greek Photojournalist Nikos Pilos Arrested and Charged: https://fom.coe.int/en/alerte/detail/107638266

    Greece's triangle of power (2012) by Stephen Grey: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-greece-media-idUSBRE8BG0CF20121217


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  • Since the summer, a surveillance scandal has been gripping Greece. It emerged that the leader of Greece’s third party, PASOK, was being spied on by the country’s National Intelligence Service (EYP) but that there had also been an attempt to install spyware on his mobile phone.

    Over the last few weeks, there have been further revelations about the use of wiretapping in Greece. Lists of dozens of alleged targets have been published in the local media, fuelling a clash between the centre-right government and the opposition. 

    Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis claims he knows nothing about the illegal phonetapping and that under his watch the Greek state has not bought or deployed the Predator malware that is at the centre of the scandal, which goes to the heart of Greece’s institutions and democracy.

    Official investigations into the matter have left much to be desired, while much of the mainstream media has played down or ignored the issue. In fact, much of what we know today about illegal phone hacking in Greece is the result of the persistence of a few journalists at small and independent outlets.

    In this episode of The Agora, we try to explain what’s happened, what it means and what might lie ahead.

    To help us understand this complex story, we speak to journalist Thanassis Koukakis. He was the first known victim of Predator and spent months trying to find out more about the use of spyware and sharing this information with the public.

    We also speak to Nikolas Leontopoulos, the co-founder of Reporters United, a collective of investigative journalists that have been probing the surveillance story from its early days along with other media, such as Inside Story and Solomon, before larger outlets started covering developments.


    Further reading

    Inside Story

    https://insidestory.gr/tagline/spyware

    Reporters United

    https://www.reportersunited.gr/en/7728/slapps-against-greek-independent-media-solomon-and-reporters-united/

    https://www.reportersunited.gr/en/7002/i-am-the-journalist-being-watched-by-the-greek-secret-service/

    Solomon

    https://wearesolomon.com/mag/accountability/solomons-reporter-stavros-malichudis-under-surveillance-for-national-security-reasons/

    https://wearesolomon.com/mag/accountability/solomon-files-complaint-against-intelligence-agency/

    European Parliament’s PEGA committee

    https://www.europarl.europa.eu/committees/en/pega/home/highlights

    https://www.europarl.europa.eu/committees/en/pega-findings/product-details/20221114CAN67684


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  • The leaders of Greece’s three main parties have set out their policies, but also the political parameters, that will define next year’s elections.

    So, what are the key issue at stake and what will decide the outcome of the vote, or more likely votes, that are due to take place in 2023?

    Co-hosts Nick Malkoutzis and Phoebe Fronista discuss what we can take away from the appearances made by the leaders of the three leading parties at the Thessaloniki International Fair in September.

    MacroPolis co-founder Yiannis Mouzakis and features editor Georgia Nakou join the discussion to look at the political and economic developments which will underpin the election campaign, ponder the permutations that will decide who will govern Greece next and muse about how many ballots will be needed to produce a workable result.


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