When the Greeks disposed of the military junta in 1974, their gratitude turned toward Konstantinos Karamanlis, a former prime minister and a very cosmopolitan politician, living in exile in Paris. He came back to Greece in the aftermath of the coup d'état in Cyprus, which precipitated the Turkish intervention in 1974. The military junta, incapable of waging war against Turkey or helping the far-right coup perpetrators in Cyprus, had to dismiss itself, asking Karamanlis back to the government. Karamanlis won an outstanding victory in the first elections, nearing 55 percent of the votes. Together with his new party New Democracy, he managed to stay in power with 42 percent of the votes in the next elections, but lost in 1981 against the newly-founded PASOK, the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Party of another oligarch, Andreas Papandreou, son of a previous Premier Yeorgi Papandreou, founder of the political dynasty. Karamanlis's real success and achievement, together with the establishing of an acceptable democratic regime, was the membership of Greece into the European Community, today's European Union. Greece, with a very small and backward economy, became a member of the E.U. in 1981 on the grounds that it could only consolidate its democracy within the E.U.
Andreas Papandreou, just after being sworn in as prime minister, declared that he wanted to organize a countrywide referendum to ask the Greek people whether they really wanted to stay in the E.U. or not. This was very much in the same vein as Great Britain, where a referendum was organized only after having joined the E.U. under the Wilson government.
The E.U. members, starting with France, were very badly surprised by this rebuff by Premier Papandreou, and ultimately, the latter was convinced not to organize a referendum, which would be a terrible loss of prestige for the E.U. however, it was only a short respite, because the PASOK government, at a time when Leonid Brezhnev was still in charge, entered into talks with the Soviet Union in order to open Greek ports up to Soviet ships, both for minor repairs and longer stays. NATO and U.S. leaders were shocked by such an insolent challenge. The Greek authorities, adding insult to injury, responded to the American administration that Greek port authorities would first check whether the ships were carrying ammunitions and arms, before letting them in.
In the aftermath of this crisis that was solved by extending some financial facilities to Greece, came the turn of the Iberian enlargement of the E.U. in 1986. Greece vehemently opposed this enlargement, arguing that the addition of two Mediterranean countries would jeopardize Greek shares in the Common Agricultural Policy payments. This problem was also solved by allocating Greece extra payments from the E.U. budget. Andreas Papandreou was a sort of gifted Berlusconi avant la lettre, he wasted all the opportunities for Greece to become a transparent and functioning democracy, mainly by blackmailing the E.U. and U.S., and making the Greek society believe that all the evil and problems came from abroad.
Now the brand new Syriza government has started its work by vetoing a decision by the E.U. to sever ties with Russia. Not only is Russia not the Soviet Union, but the world situation today bears no similarity to the period under Andreas Papandreou. The Greek economy is under the total control and scrutiny of international institutions, and it would really be a very bad idea indeed to revert to the "blackmailing policy," which was so dear to Andreas Papandreou.