Laurels and laments for Greece's socialist rule
Athens — There are no more daily protests at the American Embassy. The US Sixth Fleet comes and goes near Athens without much notice. And there is no talk of leaving NATO or the European Community (EC).
One year after electing a Socialist government, Greece has gone through few of the changes in foreign policy promised by its new prime minister, the American-educated Andreas Papandreou, a former economics professor.
''We are not foolish enough to take any unilateral action on these issues and throw the country into an adventure,'' said Mr. Papandreou recently, talking about his pre-electoral pledge to withdraw the country from NATO and to shut down American bases.
Greece has generally acted as a dutiful member of NATO and has taken advantage of EC subsidies to boost its economy, which is having a difficult time in a world recession that has hurt its shipping and tourism, two of its main sources of jobs and foreign exchange.
To compensate his hard-core followers for lack of consistency with early pledges on foreign policy, Papandreou launched himself into a series of social and political reforms. These included steps to increase the ruling party's hold over existing institutions - and change the nature of democracy in the land where it began. But he did not venture into the nationalization of large companies as he promised.
The shift in his foreign stance now includes the opening of talks soon for a renewal of the Greek-US agreement on American bases in Greece. And Papandreou has called for a moratorium in its diplomatic battles with Turkey - a first step toward a settlement of their differences.
''I may not agree with his political views and I think his economic policies are wrong but I have to admit that since he came to power we had very few strikes and almost no serious demonstrations. There is law and order,'' said a leading hotel manager.
This is a common attitude among middle-of-the-road Greeks who, although they suspect socialism as an economic system, are tolerating the Pan Hellenic Socialist Party (PASOK) for the stability it so far has offered. And they are ready to pay the price for it, which means increased power in the hands of the executive.
PASOK came to power following general elections on Oct. 18, 1981, polling 48 percent of the popular vote and electing 172 deputies in the 300-seat Parliament. It replaced the right-of-center New Democracy Party, which had been in power since 1974 following the collapse of a seven-year rule by the military.
In creating a strong second party in Greece after his return from living in the US, Papendreou set his 1981 platform on a call for withdrawal from NATO, expulsion of US military bases, a referendum on Greece's EC membership, and a Socialist transformation of both the society and the economy.
''He does not intend to do all these,'' said many of supporters in 1981. They were right.
Papandreou made some noises in NATO after coming to power and it was his veto that prevented NATO sanctions against the Soviet Union for the martial law in Poland. He dropped, however, his call for withdrawal from the alliance and even allowed participation of Greek forces in NATO movements.
As he explained later, Papandreou believes in peace through a balance of power. A sudden Greek withdrawal from NATO would have upset East-West balance in Europe and would have been counter-productive for a leader seeking to strengthen peace. Furthermore, he feared Greece outside NATO would become vulnerable to a fellow NATO member, Turkey. The two nations are quarreling over supremacy in the Aegean Sea.
For similar reasons, he avoided any unilateral action on the US military bases. Instead he came to an understanding with Washington. After meeting President Ronald Reagan in Bonn last year, negotiations between Greece and the US are slated to begin in Athens by November.
The negotiations will involve four main bases: a US Navy fuel and ammunition depot at Souda Bay on Crete; a US Air Force communications unit at Iraklion, Crete; an Air Force support facility at the Athens airport; and a Navy communications unit near the ancient battlefield of Marathon.
Negotiations will not be easy according to Papandreou's aides, but the Greek side will not be unreasonable and its position will require a provision for the phasing out of the bases - ''circumstances'' allowing.
There will also be a provision prohibiting the use of the bases for any operations aimed against the Arab world, these aides say.
Papandreou also changed his tone with the EC when a Greek request for special treatment of Greek farm products was given granted. Greece during its first two years in the EC has received almost $1.5 billion for agricultural support and development projects and in 1983 is projected to draw $1 billion.
In more dramatic moves at home, Papandreou extended voting rights to 18 -year-olds and paid honor to the communist-led resistance organizations during the German occupation of World War II. These groups were denied this honor because they helped cause the 1946-49 civil war.
He set up new ways for school children to enter universities, established civil marriage and removed adultery from penal offenses.
PASOK also began to promote agricultural cooperatives and gave them to agricultural unions, mostly run by PASOK party organs in rural areas. Another law helped trade unions by no longer allowing the government to use the courts to appoint its own people in the leadership of the Greek Federation of Labor (GSEE) and other unions.
Papandreou, although he speaks of the emphasis he places on local government and the Parliament, has used his party's majority in it to eliminate debates on new legislation. He established a special group of about 80 persons in the prime minister's office, who act as watchdogs over government bureaucrats and will have the right to questionsenior officials.
Finally, PASOK has passed a bill which eliminates voter preference of a party's list of candidates in national elections by giving parties more power to select final winners.
These measures, together with a purge in the ranks of judges and a wave of suits against citizens who have expressed themselves or have criticized the premier, have caused concern among many Greeks.
''One year of Socialist experimentation has only to show a withdrawal from democracy,'' lamented liberal author Nicos Delipetros, one-time aide of George Papandreou, late premier and father of Andreas.
The concentration of power in the hands of the premier and his close aides has created cracks in his party. Three former PASOK parliamentarians, two of them deputy ministers, criticized their leader and were thrown out of the party. Another deputy minister and an Andreas Papandreou faithful since 1965, Aristodoulos Bouloukos, said PASOK was leading the country toward an oligarchy.
Despite all these, Papandreou's star still shines bright and it was on his coattails that 84 PASOK mayors in cities and large towns were elected in the first round of the municipal elections Oct. 17. In the smaller Greek communities , the government candidates won over 80 percent of the mayorships.
Only in the large cities, like Athens, Salonica, and Piraeus, PASOK lost a percentage of its voters to New Democracy Party and the Communists.