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Yearbook 2016

Greece. The great refugee crisis in Europe was on its way at the beginning of the year; almost half a million people, according to the EU, moved to Greece from Turkey in the last quarter of 2015. Almost everyone wanted to continue north, but when other countries began to close their borders, many remained. In March, an agreement was signed that allowed the EU to send migrants back to Turkey, for compensation. The EU also decided that Greece would receive millions of euros in aid to cope with the situation. But the agreement worked poorly and in the autumn there were still close to 60,000 refugees in temporary camps or reception facilities in Greece, often in very difficult conditions.

2016 Greece

According to countryaah, the crisis put a strain on the already strained Greek economy. The eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed in principle in May that Greece would receive some form of debt relief, although no details were nailed. But in order to continue to pay out the emergency loans that were put in view, the government had to continue to enforce painful austerity measures. Strikes and demonstrations took place against plans for reduced pensions and increased taxes, although protests gradually subsided.

Towards the end of the year, it was reported that the economy grew during the second and third quarters of the year and that the country thus left the recession. During the year as a whole, growth was still expected to be negative, but the outlook looked better for 2017. The Greek economy has steadily shrunk since the crisis was triggered in 2008, with the exception of a short break in 2014. Nearly half a million Greeks were estimated to have emigrated, not least because of unemployment, which at the end of the year was still the highest in the EU and was above 23%. Government debt was still above 180% of GDP. In December, the euro zone approved some debt relief for Greece, although it was at a significantly lower level than the IMF requested.

Despite the difficult situation, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was re-elected leader of the Syriza Left Party at a party congress in October with close to 94% of the vote. A few weeks later he reshaped the government, apparently in an attempt to show continued determination with the reform work in order to keep the lenders in a good mood.

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