The Greek Current

40 Episodes

By: The Hellenic American Leadership Council

A podcast on Greece, Cyprus and the region brought to you by The Hellenic American Leadership Council and Kathimerini.

Greece begins lifting lockdown measures ahead of the summer
Yesterday at 11:29 PM

This Monday Greece started lifting certain lockdown measures, with cafes, restaurants and bars opening up as the government took yet another step toward easing restrictions ahead of the country's international reopening later this month. In the meantime, Prime Minister Mitsotakis told a digital conference organised by the Financial Times on Wednesday that trends linked to the overall outlook for the Covid-19 pandemic in Greece are encouraging, and he expects the situation to improve drastically ahead of the summer. Georgia Nakou joins The Greek Current today to discuss the government’s decision to lift restrictions this week, expectations as we ap...

Biden administration waives restriction blocking military aid to Azerbaijan
Last Tuesday at 11:16 PM

President Biden has notified Congress that the administration is extending a waiver to Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, allowing US military assistance to Azerbaijan that was originally restricted over its conflict with Armenia and tension over Nagorno-Karabakh. The move comes days after President Biden officially recognized the Armenian Genocide, and has been criticized by Armenian American advocates and observers like expert Michael Rubin. Michael Rubin joins us on The Greek Current today to analyze this decision and its broader impact on the region. 

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a f...

Greece's Iniochos military exercise and the message it sends Iran
Last Monday at 11:37 PM

Greece hosted the Iniochos 2021 military exercise in April - an annual exercise led by the Hellenic Air Force - with military forces from the US, Israel, the UAE, Cyprus and a number of other countries. In addition to improving their readiness and ability to work together, the exercise sent an unmistakable message to Iran that it has failed to isolate Israel. Expert Bradley Bowman joins The Greek Current to break down why this military exercise that took place in Greece is significant for the Eastern Mediterranean, and why it’s bad news for Tehran.

Bradley Bowman serves as...

"Give us a reason to stay": Greece's Gen Z speaks to Kathimerini about its concerns
Last Friday at 10:49 PM

“Give us a reason to stay in Greece.” That’s the title of the investigative report on the front page of Kathimerini’s Sunday print edition that highlights the concerns young Greeks have about their place in Greek society today and their future in the country. Iliana Magra, a journalist with Kathimerini and the author of the report, joins The Greek Current to talk about her findings. 

Read Iliana Magra’s article (in Greek) in Kathimerini’s here

You can read the articles we discuss on our podcast here:

Greece keeps lid on Orthodox East...

UN-led informal Cyprus talks fail to find common ground

After three days of talks, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said today that there was not  enough common ground to resume formal talks on a settlement to the Cyprus issue. The Secretary General stressed he would not give up on the issue, saying that a new round of informal talks are planned, possibly in the next two to three months. Politico journalist Nektaria Stamouli joins The Greek Current with the key takeaways from this week’s informal summit. 

Nektaria Stamouli is a correspondent with Politico based in Athens covering Greece, Cyprus, and the Balkans.


Turkish cryptocurrency exchanges collapse amid crackdown

Since last Wednesday, three Turkish cryptocurrency exchanges have suspended operations in the country after the central bank announced restrictions on the use of cryptocurrencies, triggering a run on the exchanges. A number of Turks had turned to cryptocurrencies as a way to protect their savings from skyrocketing inflation and the weakening of the Turkish lira. Dr. Aykan Erdemir, the senior director of the Turkey program at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former Turkish lawmaker, joins The Greek Current to analyze these latest developments.

Read Aykan Erdemir’s latest policy briefing for the FDD here: An...

UN hosts informal summit on Cyprus

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is hosting a three day informal summit in Geneva, Switzerland, with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, as well as the foreign ministers of Cyprus’s “guarantors” - Greece, Turkey and the UK. Guterres held bilateral meetings today with Anastasiades and Tatar, and will hold talks with all parties on Wednesday. The goal is to see if common ground exists for the parties to negotiate a lasting solution to the Cyprus problem. 

John Psaropoulos, an independent journalist based in Greece and Al Jazeera’s southeast Europe correspondent, joins us to dis...

President Biden recognizes the Armenian Genocide

On Saturday President Biden took the historic step to put the United States on record as the latest nation to formally recognize and condemn the Armenian Genocide, joining with the US Senate and House of Representatives, 49 US states, and a dozen NATO allies. Aram Hamparian, the Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America, joins The Greek Current to talk about the significance of President Biden’s statement, what it means for Armenians around the world, and what comes next on the march for justice.

You can read the articles we discuss on our podcast here:


The climate crisis and the post-Covid world: decarbonization, rare earths, and tech

This week President Biden hosted a two day virtual summit on climate change with forty world leaders, highlighting the issue as "the existential crisis of our time," and urging world leaders and businesses to take action. Sophia Kalantzakos and Constantine Karayannopoulos join The Greek Current podcast to discuss this climate summit, the broader challenges that lie ahead in achieving the twin goals of decarbonization and digitalization, the role of rare earths and critical minerals in this puzzle, and where Greece fits in this discussion.

Sophia Kalantzakos is a Global Distinguished Professor in Environmental Studies and Public Policy...

USCIRF places Turkey on a "special watch list" in its annual religious freedom report

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom issued its annual report earlier this week. Once again, Turkey was listed as a country that USCIRF recommends the State Department should include on its special watch list for "engaging in or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom." The report’s release also comes as government sources indicate that US President Joe Biden will finally recognize the Armenian genocide. Expert Tugba Tanyeri Erdemir joins The Greek Current to analyze the USCIRF report and the latest news that the White House will recognize the Armenian genocide.

Tugba Tanyeri Erdemir is th...

Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis discusses Greece's plan to safely open for tourists

Earlier this week, Greece announced it was lifting certain restrictions on travelers from the EU, the US, and other countries if they are vaccinated or test negative for Covid-19. At the same time, another flight from the US to Greece was announced, bringing the total number to 8 daily direct flights over the summer. These moves come as Greece prepares to officially open to tourists in mid May for the summer. Tourism is a key sector of Greece’s economy, responsible for over 20% of the country’s GDP.

Haris Theoharis, Greece’s Minister of Tourism, joins The Greek Curren...

A new era for the Mediterranean: An interview with Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides

Cyprus hosted a meeting of top diplomats on Friday from Israel, the UAE, and Greece for talks they said reflected the “changing face” of the Middle East. Cyprus, Greece, and Israel already have a regional partnership, but talks in the Cypriot city of Paphos on Friday marked the first time that the UAE participated, a result of the shifting alliances brought about by the Abraham Accords. Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides said the meeting signifies a new era for the region, driven by the common vision “of the wider Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East, and Gulf as an area of stabil...

Egypt wary of Turkey's attempts to reset relations

Last week Turkey’s foreign minister said that a new era in the relationship with Egypt was beginning. Last month Ankara said it established the first diplomatic contacts with Cairo since 2013 as part of what it says are efforts to mend relations with other countries in the region. The announcements come as Turkey finds itself increasingly diplomatically isolated. Steven Cook joins The Greek Current to break all this down. 

Steven Cook is the Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and is an expert on Arab and...

Greek Foreign Minister clashes with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara

Greece’s Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias traveled to Ankara on Thursday for the latest round of talks between the two countries. It wasn’t a breakthrough on talks or his meeting with President Erdogan that made the news. Instead it was his joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, where the Greek foreign minister stated Greece’s positions clearly and publicly, prompting his Turkish counterpart to describe his remarks as “unacceptable.”

Lena Argiri, the DC Correspondent for ERT - the Greek Public Broadcasting Company, and Endy Zemenides, HALC’s executive director, join The Greek Current with the key...

The Turkish justice system under President Erdogan

A recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights over the case of Ahmet Altan has highlighted what Professor Henri Barkey in a recent piece in The Washington Post has called the “utter debasement of the Turkish justice system under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.” Professor Barkey joins The Greek Current today to discuss this op-ed, and explore how Erdogan has turned Turkey’s judicial system into a political weapon that stifles dissent and criticism.

Henri Barkey is the Cohen Professor of International Relations at Lehigh University and an adjunct senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Co...

EU agrees on digital green certificates ahead of summer travel

EU ambassadors in Brussels reached an agreement on Wednesday over the technical details for the Digital Green Certificates - a proposal Greece introduced earlier in the year to help facilitate safe travel and boost tourism this summer. The European Commission also set out its blueprint to raise approximately 800 billion euros to finance its NextGenerationEU stimulus program - the same program that will also fund the Greece 2.0 economic recovery plan. Finally, major disruptions in supplies of the AstraZeneca and now the Johnson & Johnson vaccines has put the bloc’s vaccination campaign back in the spotlight.

Yannis Palaiologos, Kathimerini’s Br...

Turkey voices support for Ukraine amid Russia's military buildup on Ukraine's border

Over the past month, Russia has been massing troops, tanks and heavy artillery along its eastern border with Ukraine. These moves are not only raising the prospect of tensions escalating between Ukraine and Russia, but are also setting off alarms in Washington and at NATO headquarters. Amid these increased tensions, Ukraine’s President Zelensky visited Turkey’s President Erdogan over the weekend in a trip that highlighted Kiev’s partnership with Ankara, and shored up Turkish support for Ukraine.

Dimitar Bechev, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council who follows Russia and Turkey, joins The Greek Curren...

Greece's diplomatic strategy in the Balkans

Following a decade where Greece saw its influence in the Balkans wane as a result of the financial crisis, Athens is now eyeing a return to the Balkans given the new geopolitical realities that have unfolded in recent years, including the extensions of NATO membership to countries in the Western Balkans and the settlement of the name issue with North Macedonia. Vassilis Nedos, Kathimerini’s diplomatic and defense editor, joins The Greek Current to analyze Greece’s latest diplomatic initiatives in the Balkans and the broader Balkan strategy that Athens is pursuing.

Read Vassilis Nedos' latest piece in K...

The economic, humanitarian, political, and security crises in Lebanon

Last year in August the explosion that rocked Beirut turned everyone’s attention to Lebanon. French President Macron visited, and there were efforts to stabilize both the country’s politics and its economy. Despite this, Lebanon is dangerously close to becoming a failed state. The dire situation in Lebanon was the focus of a recent press briefing organized by the advocacy organization In Defense of Christians. 

Robert Nicholson and Richard Ghazal, two of the event’s expert panelists, join The Greek Current to share their expertise on what’s going on in Lebanon, why it matters, what steps the...

Greece 2.0 looks to transform the economy. Does it go far enough?

Greece 2.0 will mark the largest inflow of funds that Greece has ever seen, with some observers pointing out that it may be more important even than the Marshall Plan was for Greece. While this plan aims to offer a blueprint for Greece’s transformation into a greener and more efficient economy, there are skeptics who ask whether the plan goes far enough. There is also speculation about early elections in September, where the government is likely to lean on Greece 2.0 in any election campaign.

John Psaropoulos, an independent journalist based in Athens and Al Jazeera’s southeast Euro...

Turkey's experiment with Clubhouse and Erdogan's crackdown on social media

Merve Tahiroglu, the Turkey program coordinator at the Project on Middle East Democracy, joins us to talk about her latest piece in Brookings’ TechStream blog about the social media app Clubhouse, its role in the recent student protests at Istanbul’s Bogazici University, it’s broader impact on Turkey’s political scene, and its transformation from a safe space for critics into another digital battleground for Erdogan’s information wars. We also look at Turkey’s broader crackdown on social media, and whether companies like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube can ultimately ensure users a safe space for public debate in Turkey.<...

Prime Minister Mitsotakis visits Libya to reset relations

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis travelled to Libya on Tuesday aiming to restart relations with the war-torn country. During his visit, he announced the reopening of the Greek Embassy in Tripoli, and called on the interim government to scrap an agreement on maritime boundaries signed with Turkey in 2019, which Athens says violates international law. His visit came as other EU leaders also visited the country, and called for the departure of foreign forces and mercenaries ahead of elections scheduled for later this year.

Tom Ellis, the editor-in-chief of Kathimerini English edition, joins us to share his take...

Ex-admirals detained in Turkey over statement on straits treaty

Turkish authorities on Monday detained 10 former admirals after a group of more than 100 retired top navy officers issued a statement declaring their commitment to the 1936 Montreux Convention, an international treaty that regulates shipping through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits. The statement was issued amid a debate over whether Turkish President Erdogan would pull the country out of the convention. Government officials have tied the statement to Turkey’s history of military coups.

Ryan Gingeras, a professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School and an expert on Turkish, Balkan, and Middle East hi...

Greece eases lockdown restrictions and steps up its vaccination campaign

This week Greece decided to relax some of its lockdown measures, even as it’s seeing a record number of infections that’s straining hospitals to their limits. The government followed up on this decision by unveiling its roadmap for the country’s gradual return to normal economic and social activities. Prime Minister Mitsotakis also announced that Greece will be stepping up its vaccination campaign, saying that Greece will double the number of vaccinations administered in the coming weeks. Journalist Nikos Efstathiou is with us to analyze the latest data and the moves by Athens to tackle the pandemic. 


Prime Minister Mitsotakis unveils economic recovery plan worth 57 billion euros

Prime Minister Mitsotakis presented the key principles of a massive economic recovery and resilience plan - or Greece 2.0 as it’s called - on Wednesday. Mitsotakis described the plan as a game-changer for the country and as “a bridge to the post-COVID-19 era”. The government says this plan will boost economic growth by as much as seven percentage points over the next six years, and create tens of thousands of jobs. The plan consists of 170 projects, investments and reforms, and will mobilize 57 billion euros. 

Eirini Chrysolora, a journalist at Kathimerini covering economic and financial affairs, joins The Greek C...

A new approach to reuniting the Parthenon Marbles

The issue of the Parthenon marbles was back in the headlines earlier in March, when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued a point-blank rejection of the sculptures being returned to Greece. Johnson’s statement comes as Athens has stepped up its campaign to reunite the Parthenon marbles in light of this year’s celebration of Greece’s bicentennial. Professor Angelos Chaniotis joins The Greek Current to talk about the latest efforts to reunite the Parthenon marbles and explore his proposal for a new approach to the issue that he explains in his op-ed in Kathimerini: “Marbles United, not Marbles Returned...

EU official visits Greece, putting migration back in the spotlight

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson held a second day of meetings today in Athens, where she met with Greece’s prime minister and foreign minister to talk about migration issues. Her visit to Lesvos, Samos, and Athens have put migration back in the spotlight, and come as the EU is working on a new migration pact. Journalist Nektaria Stamouli joins The Greek Current to talk about this new pact, the kind of solidarity Europe’s frontline states like Greece want to see from other EU countries, and the different challenges Greece is currently facing as a result of the...

EU to fund five new refugee camps on Greece's Aegean islands

On Monday EU home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson and Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi travelled to Lesvos and Samos, where they visited the migrant facilities on the islands. During a joint press conference, Johansson announced that the EU would provide Greece with €250m of funding for five new migrant facilities on the islands of Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Kos and Leros. Her visit to Lesvos was met with demonstrations from local residents who oppose the construction of new migrant camps. 

Katy Fallon, a freelance journalist based in Greece and focusing on migration, joins The Greek Current with a rep...

What President Biden can learn from the American experience with the Greek Revolution of 1821

In a recent piece in the Washington Monthly, Paul Glastris explores how American popular support for the Greek revolution sparked a debate in the US over the balance between realism and idealism in American foreign policy. He argues that the need to find the balance between principle and practicality in foreign policy is as great today as it was 200 years ago, pointing out that there are a number of lessons from 1821 that President Biden should take into account when formulating its own foreign policy doctrine. 

Paul Glastris, the editor in chief of the Washington Monthly who is a...

Greece's war of independence and American Philhellenism

Professor Alexander Kitroeff recently gave a lecture on American Philhellenism and the Greek fight for independence that kicked off 200 years ago. As we celebrate Greece’s bicentennial today, Professor Kitroeff joins us on our podcast to talk about the links between the Greek revolution and the United States of America, from the philhellenes who travelled to Greece to join the fight, to the individuals who led efforts in the US to support the cause of freedom. 

Alexander Kitroeff is a Professor of History at Haverford College and the author of a number of books. His lecture on Phi...

EU leaders prepare to talk Turkey at crucial summit

This week, Brussels is at the center of a number of important developments. These include the upcoming EU summit where European leaders will examine the bloc’s relationship with Turkey, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s meeting with the foreign ministers of NATO in his first official trip outside the US, which took place on Tuesday. Amidst these developments, there’s an ongoing debate on the EU’s handling of the pandemic and its vaccine rollout that leaders will have to tackle. 

Yannis Palaiologos, Kathimerini’s Brussels correspondent, joins us with the latest on the ground report from...

Turkey's lira tanks after Erdogan fires central bank chief

Over the weekend, Turkey’s President Erdogan sacked the country’s central bank governor, and pulled out of the Istanbul Convention, a treaty to protect women. These moves stunned financial markets and Western allies, with the Turkish lira falling more than 8% against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The move raises concerns about a return to unconventional monetary policies favored by Erdogan as the economy struggles with inflation and currency instability. Dr. Aykan Erdemir joins The Greek Current to analyze these latest developments in Turkey. 

Dr. Aykan Erdemir is the senior director of the Turkey program at the F...

The link between human rights concerns in Turkey and regional security

On Friday, In Defense of Christians hosted an event focusing on the national security concerns and human rights violations in Turkey that need to be addressed by the United States. This event was especially timely as human rights in Turkey are back in the spotlight — both with the alleged human rights reforms that Erdogan is proposing and the crackdown on opposition lawmakers and parties. Since this recording was made, Turkey also withdrew from the Istanbul Convention, an international agreement aimed at preventing violence against women. 

Dr. Elizabeth Prodromou and HALC’s Executive Director Endy Zemenides, who were both...

US court reinstates guilty verdicts against Michael Flynn partner over Turkey lobbying

This week a federal appeals court reinstated guilty verdicts on Bijan Rafiekian, the business partner of former Trump administration National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, over the pair’s lobbying for Turkish interests in the midst of the 2016 presidential campaign. During the Turkey-related work, Flynn was a top adviser to Trump's presidential campaign. After the 2016 election, Rafiekian became an adviser to Trump's transition team. Adam Klasfeld joins us to discuss this ruling, and give us a look ahead at the upcoming Halkbank trial set to begin in May. 

Adam Klasfeld is the senior investigative reporter and editor for Law...

The EU vaccine certificate, Greek tourism, the pandemic, and more with Kathimerini's Tom Ellis

During an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that Greece would be prepared for tourism this summer amid the COVID-19 pandemic. His statement coincided with an announcement from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who officially unveiled the EU’s plan for a vaccine certificate. Meanwhile, Greece issued its first 30-year government bond sale since before the financial crisis on Wednesday, prompting Prime Minister Mitsotakis to say this is proof “Greece is back.” 

Tom Ellis, the editor-in-chief of Kathimerini English edition, joins us today to talk about Prime Minister Mitsotakis’ interview with CNN...

Turkey moves to disband pro-Kurdish party, expels HDP legislator

In the latest crackdown on Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition party, the HDP, Turkish authorities on Wednesday stripped Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, a prominent HDP legislator and human rights advocate, of his parliamentary seat. Meanwhile, a prosecutor filed a case with Turkey’s highest court, seeking the HDP’s disbandment. The HDP has come under intensified pressure recently, with the far-right nationalist allies of President Erdogan’s party calling for it to be banned. The moves against Gergerlioglu and the HDP come weeks after Erdogan pledged a series of human rights reforms.

Merve Tahiroglu, the Turkey Program Coordinator at the Proj...

Greece and Turkey hold 62nd round of exploratory talks in Athens

Greece and Turkey began another round of exploratory talks in Athens on Tuesday, seeking common ground on a long-standing maritime boundaries dispute. Leading up to today’s talks, Turkey slammed Greece, Cyprus, and Israel over the Euro-Asia interconnector, and has also been attempting to undermine Greece’s relations with Egypt and Israel. The exploratory talks in Athens also took place as EU leaders are preparing to meet later this month to evaluate the bloc’s relationship with Turkey. 

John Psaropoulos, an independent journalist based in Greece and Al Jazeera’s southeast Europe correspondent, joins us today with the key t...

Turkey's tough week in Washington, DC

On Sunday the AP ran a story highlighting the continued silent treatment the Biden administration is giving to Turkey’s President Erdogan. This story rounds out what has been a tough week for Turkey in Washington, where it got a lot of pushback from both Congress and the administration. This included a Senate push for the administration to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide, the State Department and the Justice Department saying that Turkey is liable for the attack on protesters in DC in 2017, and Secretary Blinken’s testimony in the House on issues related to the Aegean and the East...

The Biden administration says Turkey is not immune for the attacks on protesters at Sheridan Circle

In what has been described as a move that signals a shift in US-Turkish relations, the Justice Department and the State Department sent a strongly worded amicus brief asking a federal appeals court to uphold a ruling that Turkey can be held liable for assaulting protesters in Washington, DC on the day Turkish President Erdogan met with former President Trump nearly four years ago.  The brief follows a letter to Secretary of State Blinken from leaders in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee urging the State Department to support the protesters.

Andreas A...

Michael Rubin: Why is Cyprus still divided?

Michael Rubin makes the case that it’s time to reconsider the decades-long diplomatic approach to solving the Cyprus problem, especially given Turkey’s recent maximalist calls for a two-state solution on the island. Rubin argues that rather than empowering Turkish President Erdogan and Turkey’s puppet government in the occupied northern part of the island, the US, the EU, and moderate Arab allies should instead sanction Turkey until it gives up its occupation. 

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official.

Read Michael Rubin’s piece in The Na...