History of Greece
Greeks history begins in the Stone Age, with the unearthing of a Neolithic skull in cave on the Halkidiki Peninsula of Macedonia. This has established that the first settlers came to Greece over 700,000 years ago. Throughout the following centuries, the inhabitants between 7000-3000 BC developed into a farming community. In 3000BC, small villages developed under the command of a chieftain. The remains of two preserved Neolithic villages are at Seklos near Volos and Dimini. Artefacts found on Alonnisos in the Sporades dating from 3000 BC, include a sculptured head, thought to represent a fertility goddess.
Bronze Age: Circa 3000 BC migrants brought to Greece the art of bronze making; this was the beginning of the three great periods in Greek history.
Cycladic Period: is the first of theperiods in the development of Greek culture and religion,centred on the islands of the Cyclades, started in 3000 BC through to 1100 BC, artefacts from this era are statues made from marble depicting fertility gods, have been found in tombs on the islands. In addition, a vast assortment of pottery, tools, weapons and gold jewellery has been uncovered. The inhabitants of the islands were also traders and sailors; they exported their goods to Africa , Turkey , and Europe as well as islands in the Aegean .
Minoan Period: the second of the periods, the Minion period developed on the island of Crete and emerged as one of the most sophisticated civilisations in Europe at that time. The Minion period had influences from the Middle East civilisations of Mesopotamia and Egypt . Archaeologists divided the period into three ages, like the Cycladic period, The Early (3000-2000 BC), Middle (2000-1500 BC), and Late (1500-1100 BC). The early age still had aspects from the Neolithic life, but by 2500 BC, the Minion culture named after the mythical King Minos was accepted. The Minions continued to develop, and in the middle period, their skills in ceramics and metalwork were renowned. During the Late period, the Minion Empire fell into decline, due to the commercial and military strength of the Mycenaean Empire based on the mainland. By 1100 BC, the Minion Empire was over.
Mycenaean Period: After the decline of the Minion Empire, the Mycenaean Empire grew in importance on the mainland. This period lasted from 1900 BC to 1100 BC, and was at its most influential between 1500 BC and 1200BC. Unlike the Minion Empire who seemingly lived a peaceful existence under a central form of authority, the Mycenaean Empire was consisted of several city-states, such as Corinth , Tiryns and the powerful city-state of Mycenae . Fortified walls for protection enclosed these city-states ruled by kings. The Mycenaean’s wrote in an early form of Greek, now called the “Linear B”. The exquisite gold jewellery and ornaments for which from this time are now on show in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens . This great civilisation ended when the Dorians took control in the 12 th century BC.
Geometric Period: this is the age of the Dorians, who came from the regions of Macedonia or Epiros. This theory is under dispute by some historians, who believe they came from central Greece . The Dorians were a warrior race, and rapidly they had occupied most of the mainland. They sacked the city-states and enslaved the population. The Dorians were proficient ironworkers; they worshipped male gods instead of fertility goddesses. Later they converted to worshipping the Greek Gods,
Archaic Period: In 800 BC, the Dorians had become well-to-do landowners. The city-states of Argos , Athens , Sparta and Thebes were self-governing, the Kings who were in control amassed riches and privileges. The common people of the region did not have a high regard for them and soon tyrants ousted the royal families and took control. The further development of the Greek language and construction of sanctuaries at Delphi and other sites, and the introduction of the first Olympic Games where the city-states met and competed in sports and oddly enough the reading of poetry and other literature. This period gave the Greeks a sense of unity and paved the way for further development.
The city-state of Athens was still under the control of the over class, in 594 BC a new chief magistrate (arhon) called Solon was chosen. His aim was to ease the tension between the rich with all their privileges and the poor who were often under obligation to the over class. Solon annulled all debts and freed the poor from enslavement, He declared that all Athenians should be equal by law, and have the right to vote in elections. Solon is regarded as one of the fore runners in the development of a democracy.
Sparta , in the Peloponnese , was ruled on different principles; the Spartans governed the city as a military state. At the age of seven, male children were taken from their parents to be trained as warriors. Girls had to remain healthy in order to produce healthy sons. So strict was the system, that babies deemed in poor condition were taken into the mountains and left to die. This military rule was so successful, that any signs of opposition were unknown. Sparta became the strongest military city-state in Greece .
The Persians Wars: Due to Athens support of a revolt in the Persian colony of Asia Minor, Emperor Darius wanted retribution, and in 490 BC a Persian army consisting of 25,000 soldiers, reached Attica . At the Battle of Marathon, a force of 10,000 Athenian soldiers overpowered them. In 485 BC, the Emperor died, and his son Xerxes took over his wishes to conquer Greece . Five years later Xerxes had recruited soldiers from every country in the Persian Empire ; it was one of the largest military forces ever seen. In Greece , under the control of the Spartans, 30 city-states raised an army and navy to meet the Persians in battle. With the Spartan King, Leonidas in command the army travelled to the Thermopylae Pass , near the modern day town of Lamia in central Greece . Here at the pass the Greek army fought courageously against the superior numbers of the Persian army and defended the pass. A Greek traitor showed the Persian commander a way over the mountains so they could attack the Greeks on another front, the main force of the Greek army were forced to withdraw. King Leonidas, with about 300 loyal soldiers remained and fought valiantly to the death. The Greek army retreated to the Isthmus of Corinth where they had a second line of defence. The Persian army moved on towards Athens , The women and children of the city fled to the island of Salamina in the Saronic Gulf , whilst the able-bodied men went sea with the Athenian fleet. The Persian army destroyed the city of Athens and the surrounding area. The Persian navy suffered badly when the Greek navy met them off the island of Salamina , the more manoeuvrable Greek ships soon destroyed the larger ships of the Persian navy. Xerxes returned to Persia leaving his generals to fight on and suppress the Greeks, one year later at the Battle of Plataea, the Greeks decimated the Persian army.
Classical Period: After the war against Persia , Athens in 477 BC created the Delian League, this was to amalgamate the all the city-states with a navy to protect against further attacks from the Persians. Each city-state had to have ships and finances to support the league. In the year 461 BC, Pericles became the leader of Athens ; he started a major reconstruction of the city. His priority was to rebuild the temple on the Acropolis, and move the treasury that had previously been on the island of Delos . He built massive defences to prevent further attacks from the Persians. Later he sought to enlarge the city-state, to the west lay the Spartan controlled Peloponnese , he came into conflict with the Spartans, which resulted the Peloponnese Wars.
The Peloponnesian Wars: The first Peloponnesian War took place between 431- 421 BC, Athens supported the island of Corfu , who had a quarrel with the city Corinth . The Spartans who were allies of the city came to help. Athens knowing of the strength of the Spartans retreated inside their city walls. The Athenian fleet blocked traffic to the Peloponnese , the ensuing conflict caused problems for both sides, the Athenians suffered from the outbreak of plague, which killed many of the citizens as well as Pericles. In the end, the two conflicting sides declared a truce. This uneasy truce only lasted for eight years. In 413 BC, the Athenians had a conflict going with the city of Syracuse , on the island if Sicily , who they had been besieging for three years. The Spartans came to the aid of Syracuse and destroyed most of the Athenian navy and army. Regardless of the massive losses, the Athenians carried on the battle for another nine years, before conceding defeat in 404 BC. The city of Corinth wanted Athens razed to the ground, the Spartans remembering Athens stand against the Persians, saved the city, but took over the vestiges of the Athenian fleet, and destroyed the city’s fortifications.
During the Peloponnesian Wars, the Spartans promised the city-states that supported them, freedom to run their own affairs. The Spartans renegaded on this promise and installed governments comprised of elite and wealthy to run the cities, with the support of the Spartan forces. This turn-about led to dissatisfaction among the citizens of the cities. The Spartans decided they would take back cities in Asia Minor , which had been under Greek rule from the Persians. The Persians, once again involved in the affairs of Greece , had an unlikely ally, the Athenians and the city-state of Thebes , who were becoming ever stronger. In the year 371 BC, the rivalry between Sparta and Thebes , ended at a major battle at Leuctra , where the Spartans suffered a resounding defeat by the armies of Thebes led by Epaminondas. Athens decided to transfer its allegiances and become an ally with the Spartans. In 372 BC, the armies of Athens and Sparta met the army of Thebes at Mantinea in the Peloponnese . Again, the Theban army defeated the forces of Sparta and Athens , but with the death of their leader, Epaminondas, the Theban advantage soon disintegrated. No other city-state was able to fill the vacuum left after these conflicts. Bur this was soon to change as a new era in Greek history was about to begin.
The Macedonians: The inhabitants of Macedonia consisted of nomadic farmers and loose knit communities; the Greeks regarded them as barbarians. In the year 359 BC, Philip II ascended to the throne, and he united the region of Macedonia and created a formidable fighting force. He and his forces marched into Greece ; at the Battle of Khaironeia in 338 BC, his army conquered the Greek forces. In 339 BC all the city-states in Greece , except Sparta swore loyalty to Phillip II, who in return would subdue the Persians. However, he could not carry out his pledge as one of his own men assassinated him in 336 BC. After the death of Phillip, rebellions were taking place in a power struggle for supremacy. Alexander, after the demise of his father became king, he swiftly suppressed the rebellions, and as an example, he destroyed the city of Thebes . In 334 BC he carried out his fathers plan to subdue the Persians, he and his army of 40,000 soldiers marched into Asia Minor . He occupied Syria , Palestine and Egypt ; in Egypt , he founded the city of Alexandria in honour of himself. The Persian king, Darius III and his army were overpowered in 331 BC. Alexander travelled eastwards, as far as India his plan was to create an empire. His soldiers, in 324 BC weary of years of battles convinced him to return to Mesopotamia . In 323 BC, he unexpectedly fell ill and died at the age of 33 and the vision of the greatest empire in the world died with him.
The Romans: At the same time Alexander was creating his empire in the east, the Romans where creating there own empire in the west. The Romans had their eye on Greece , and in 168 BC, they overpowered the Macedonia forces at the battle of Pydnaa. By 146 BC, the Romans had taken control over Greece . The country now a province of Rome , enjoyed a time of peace and tranquillity. In the 300 years of roman rule, the exchange of cultures and ideas flourished, many rich roman families sent their children to Greece to learn about the arts and philosophy. By 250 AD, the once mighty Roman Empire was in decline. Yet again, Greece was to experience more changes, with the rise of Christianity and the beginning of the Byzantine Empire .
The Byzantine Empire : After visits by St. Paul to Greece in the 1 st century AD, the conversion to Christianity was on the increase. In the year 324 AD, the Emperor Constantine 1 st, who had converted to the Christian faith moved the seat of power from Rome to Byzantium . Constantine renamed the city Constantinople ( Istanbul ), the city’s importance and wealth grew, as the influences from Rome declined. Emperor Theodosius 1st forbade the worshipping of the old Greek gods, in 394 AD and declared Christianity the main religion in Greece . In addition, in 529 AD Emperor Justinian prohibited the teaching of Greek philosophy in favour of Christian religious studies. The decline of the Byzantine Empire , started with the crusades, the crusaders driven by religious fervour and greed had made several raids on Jerusalem , decided that Constantinople offered better rewards. In 1204 AD, the crusaders after making a pact with Venice , raided the city and took control over a major part of the Byzantine Empire . The Empire was split into several states ruled by Frankish princes. The Venetians, had taken control over the most of Greece , and in the following centuries increased their prosperity and influence in the region. In 1259 AD, the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologos reclaimed the Peloponnese, and three years later, he recaptured Constantinople, but the Empire never reclaimed its past glory or power.
The Ottoman Empire : the Seljuk Turks from Central Asia had settled on the Anatolian Plain in the 1071 AD, after a battle with the Byzantine forces. Later the Muslim Ottomans who were the strongest tribe succeeded in taken control of the region. They took control and became a major threat to the Byzantine Empire . In 1453, the Turks took control over the city of Constantinople ; yet again Greece was the arena for another war, this time between the Turks and the Venetians. The Turks took control of Greece , who also expanded their empire as far as Austria and the Balkans. Under the rule of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, the Ottoman Empire was at its greatest. Subsequent Sultans added Cyprus to their empire and eventually Crete , who held out for 25 years against Turkish rule. The Venetians in 1684 recaptured the Peloponnese and advanced on Athens . In 1715, the Turks had regained control over the region, but its power and influence had diminished. Russia became involved in the affairs of Greece . After the Turks took Constantinople , the leader of the Russian Church sought freedom for fellow Christians in the south. Empress Catherine the Great, in 1770 sent agents to the Peloponnese and to Epiros in 1786 to encourage rebellion against the Turks. Ali Pasha who was governor of Ioannina put down these rebellions. Ali Pasha not contented with being just a governor, wanted more power and started a private rebellion against the ruling Sultan. Meanwhile, The Empress Catherine had ousted the Turks from the Black Sea region, she had towns built and encouraged Greeks to come and live there. In the year 1814 in the new town of Odessa , three businessmen formed the first Greek Independence Party, known as Filiki Eteria, (Friendly Society). The Party expanded, and soon offices were established in nearly every town in Greece . Ali Pasha’s quest for power in 1820 was the incentive for rebellion. On March 25, 1821 , Bishop Germanos of Patra, hoisted the Greek flag at the Agia Lavra monastery in the Peloponnese , this was the signal for the start of the War of Independence.
The Greek War of Independence : was perhaps one of the bloodiest of all the battles fought on Greek soil. Both the Greeks and the Turks committed atrocities. The proclamation of Greek Independence came in January 1822, but unrest was stirring within the Greek leadership, which resulted in civil war. The Turks where not slow in taking advantage of this unrest, and in 1827, with the help of the Egyptians recaptured most of Greece . The military forces of France , Russia and England came to the aid of Greece , and they destroyed the Turkish- Egyptian navy in 1827 in the Bay of Navarino . The Sultan promptly declared a Holy War, which resulted in the Russians sending its army to take on the Ottoman army in the Balkans. The Russians after beating the Ottoman army, pushed onto Constantinople in 1829.The Sultan had no alternative, but to capitulate and acknowledge the Independence of Greece.
The Development of the Greece Nation: The Greeks in 1827 had chosen Ioannis Kapodistrias, who had served as foreign minister to Tsar Alexander 1 st as president for the new nation of Greece . His attitude did not go well with many of the former leaders who fought in the War of Independence, the fiercely independent Maniots who lived in the south of the Peloponnese , despised him the most. Unknown assailants assassinated Kapodistrias in 1831. The following unrest brought the powers of Russia , England and France back into the affairs of the country. They declared that Greece should become a monarchy under the rule of the 17-year-old Prince Otto from Bavaria . He arrived in Greece in 1833, He soon distanced himself from the general population, and became very unpopular, and in 1843 after demonstrations, he formed a government with many of former leaders of the War of Independence taking office. In 1862 Students from the University of Athens , staged a coup and King Otto was disposed. The British who had recently returned the Ionioan islands to Greece, which had been under British rule since 1815, urged the Greeks to take Prince William of Denmark as their new king. Prince William now called King George I, he ruled Greece and the country enjoyed a period of peace and tranquillity until 1913 when a lunatic assassinated him. A rebellion in 1866-1868 on the island of Crete , which was still under Turkish rule, was unsuccessful. Greece got control of the region of Thessaly and part if Epiros in 1881 and in 1896 the first Olympic Games were held in Athens . In 1897, another rebellion on Crete led to the declaration of war against Turkey . The intervention of the international powers prevented another Turkish invasion of Greece . Crete came under the rule of international administration, and 1905, the president of the Cretan assembly Eleftherios Venizelos announced that Crete would come under Greek rule; however, international law did not give its approval until 1913. Eleftherios Venizelos went on to become the prime minister in 1910 and remained in politics until 1935. In 1913 after many battles in the Balkan Wars, the Treaty of Bucharest gave the parts of Thrace , parts of Epiros and the southern part of Macedonia plus the North-Eastern Aegean Islands to Greece .
World War 1: Prince Constantine, the son of King George became king; he was married to the daughter of the German Emperor, he wanted to Greece to remain neutral in the war. However, pressure from England , France and Russia who between them promised the Greeks land in Asia Minor , this resulted in the Greeks joining the allies fight against the Germany and Turkey . The King disapproved of this move and had many heated discussions with his Prime Minister Venizelos, the king left Greece 1917 and Alexander his son became king. In At the end of the war in 1918, the promise of lands in Asia Minor was not imminent. The Prime Minister decided to take the lands himself, so with the Allies consent Greek forces landed at Smyrna on the Turkish mainland in 1919, under the pretence of protecting the Greeks who lived in the city. By September 1921, the Greeks were on the verge of taking Ankara . The Turkish commander Mustafa Kemal (later known as Ataturk), mounted an offensive in the spring of 1922, which forced into retreat. Thousands of Greek residents in the city of Smyrna were massacred; the outcome of this war was at the Treaty of Lausanne, in 1923 gave the eastern part of Thrace and the islands of Tenedos and Imvros to Turkey . The Dodecanese Islands taken by the Italians in 1912 were to remain under Italian rule. A population exchange to prevent further confrontations was ordered, over 1 million Greeks left Turkey and about 40.000 Turks returned to Turkey .
Republican Greece : In 1920, King Alexander died after a monkey bit him, his father Constantine once more became king, but he abdicated after the war in Smyrna . Prince George II became king, soon after a number of military coups; in 1924, the military declared Greece a republic. In 1928, the earlier Prime Minister Venizelos was once again in office, he tried to implement reforms, but the Great Depression hindered him to set the reforms in practise. The Prime Ministers views on the royalty brought him into conflict with the monarchists. He lost the election in 1933, but he unsuccessfully tried to stage a coup in 1935, he died in exile in Paris in 1936. King George II in 1935 came back to the throne, and made General Metaxas his prime minister. With the kings, approval Metaxas took control over Greece . He had great plans for the country; he wanted to build a New Greek nation based on the history of the Byzantine Empire . In reality, he created an authoritarian state; he incarcerated political adversaries, trade unions abolished and he formed a secret police force.
World War 2: General Metaxas tried to keep Greece out of the conflict, when Mussolini requested that Italian forces should be allowed to cross through Greece, Metaxas said “Ohi” (No), a reply for which he is remembered for. The Italians not taking no for an answer, invaded Greece , but the country’s army forced them into retreat. The British forces in an effort to stop the German army attacking the Balkan region, also asked if they could enter Greece , they received the same brusque reply. Metaxas died in 1941 and Alexandros Koryzis replaced him as Prime Minister. Koryzis, allowed British forces into Greece , he killed himself on hearing the news that German forces invaded Greece in April 1941. The British along side their allies and the Greek army, fought courageously but were soon overwhelmed and the country came under the control of the Nazis. Greece , like many of the German occupied countries, suffered severe hardship, many of them died of starvation and the Nazis sent large numbers of the Jewish population to the extermination camps. During this time, a number of resistance groups were in action; some supported communist ideals, whilst others were right wing and supported the monarchy. They carried out raids against them Germans, some successful others ended with reprisals against the Greek population. The different groups of resistance fighters were not only satisfied with fighting the Germans, they also fought and killed each other in a bid for supremacy. By 1944, the Germans were defeated in Greece .
The Civil War: In December 1944, a communist rally took place in Syntagma Square (Plateia Syntagmatos), the police opened fire and this resulted in vicious fighting between the conflicting factions for nearly two months. An election held in March 1946 gave victory to the royalists, and with a bit of political manoeuvring, King George II once again reinstated as the King of Greece. The left wing Democratic Army of Greece, formed in October the same continued the fight against the Crown and its supporters. They took control of the region along the northern borders of Greece . They received arms and supplies from Yugoslavia , in 1947, the British with the threat of the Cold War and the rise of communism in Europe , gave America the role as guardian for the democracy in Greece . It became against the law to be a member or support the communists, and the government introduced the infamous Certificate of Political Reliability, which stayed in force until 1962. Without the certificate, Greeks were illegible to vote and submit an application for jobs. The Democratic Army continued to fight against the government, and they took command of large areas of Greece as well of some of the islands. In 1949, the government forces won control and forced the Democratic Army northwards into the Epiros region and later in the year the Civil War ended. The years of turmoil had taken its toll on the population of Greece , thousands were destitute, and more people died in the Civil War than the whole of WW II. Tired of wars, Villages and islands were abandoned as thousands of Greeks emigrated in search of a better life abroad.
Political Unrest: The political situation in Greece remained in turmoil. Political alliances came and went in a series of coalitions. In 1952, political reforms were introduced in favour of the majority vote. This disqualified the communists from the government; the right wing Greek Rally Party won the next election. With General Papagos as their leader, they remained in power until the General’s death in 1955. In 1951, Greece became a member of NATO, and in 1953, Greece gave America permission to have military bases in Greece . In support of an anti communist government, America gave substantial military and financial aid to Greece . The island of Cyprus came on to the political agenda of Greece , Cyprus that had been under the protection of the British, wanted to be amalgamated with Greece . The Americans and the British governments vetoed this amalgamation with Greece on the grounds of strategic importance for the region. In 1956, Greek Cypriot freedom fighters (EKOA) fought against the British forces, and after three years of skirmishes, the governments of Greece, Britain and Turkey agreed that Cyprus should become a independent state, with Archbishop Makarios as President and Fasal Kükük as Vice President. This was not a popular solution and the Greek freedom fighters continued to fight, while the Turkish Cypriots demanded separation from the Greek controlled part of the island. In Greece , Georgos Papandreou founded the Centre Union Party (EK) in 1958. Elections held in 1961 the renamed Greek Rally Party, now called the National Radical Party (ERE) with Konstantinos Karamanlis as its leader, were returned for a third time to power. Papandreou accused him of rigging the votes, and another round of political unrest began. This unrest ended with the murder in 1963 of Grigorios Lambrakis, deputy of the Union of the Democratic Left (EDA). Konstantinos Karamanlis resigned from his post and left Greece for France . The Centre Union Party now took control of the government, they reduced taxation, increased public spending, political prisoners were set free and those exiled were allowed back into Greece . This led to further dissatisfaction among right wing political parties, and ended with a military coup.
Military Rule: Georgos Papadopoulos and Stylianos Patakos, two colonels in the Greek army led the military coup in April 1967. The military took control over Greece with Colonel Papadopoulos as Prime Minister. King Constantine launched a counter- coup in December, this failed and he went into exile. What followed was purge of all political parties and trade unions. The thousands of Greeks who opposed the regime were tortured, imprisoned or sent into exile. In 1972, Papadopoulos declared Greece a republic and appointed himself as President. One year later in November, students began a protest against the regime, by staging a sit in at Athens Polytechnic. On November 17, the military reacted by sending in tanks, which resulted in many injuries and death. One week later, the commander of the military security police, Brigadier Ioannidis, disposed Papadopoulos and took control of the regime. In 1974, Ioannidis seeking success in foreign policy, to validate the regimes policies, planned to assassinate Archbishop Makarios and claim sovereignty over Cyprus . Like all well laid plans, it went very wrong, Makarios escaped after hearing about the plan. The military selected Nikos Sampson a former freedom fighter as President of Cyprus, The Turkish government angry about the turn of events, immediately invaded the island. The military regime quickly removed Sampson as President and retreat on their plans, the Turks who had now control of the north of the island, forcing thousands of Greek Cypriots to flee to the south. The military government realising they had lost power, resigned. After the military regime, Konstantinos Karamanlis, the former leader of the National Radical Party, returned to Greece from France and with the New Democratic Party, won the 1974 elections. The Democratic Party won the 1977 election, and was responsible for working towards Greece ’s entry into the European Union, On January 1 st. 1981 Greece became a full member of the Union .
Socialist Greece : In the elections of 1981, the PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Union) with Andreas Papandreou as its leader won the election, on the promises of social changes and the reduction of foreign military base in Greece . Many of these promises remained unfilled after seven years. On the contrary, the country was experiencing high unemployment and a reduction in education and social welfare. In 1988, a love affair between an airhostess and Papandreou made headlines throughout Greece , and his political party was involved a financial scandal. In 1989, the conservatives along with the communists, gained control of the government and began an investigation of Papandreou and his party. He and four members of the party went court accused of embezzlement and other illegal activities; the trial ended in 1992, with Papandreou acquitted of all charges.
Modern Greece : The New Democratic Party won the elections in 1990, and Konstantinos Mitsotakis becoming Prime Minister. He instigated a programme of severe cutbacks in government spending to counter the country’s high inflation. Rumours that Mitsotakis had illegal collection of Minoan Art and corruption was rife in his party led to the downfall of the government. The PASOK Party returned to power in 1992 with Papandreou once again Prime minister. He held the post for four years when ill health forced him to retire, and in June 1996, he died. Costas Simitis became the new Prime Minister, and the PASOK Party policy changed course, adopting a more liberal policy. Simitis, despite continuing tax reforms and cuts in public spending, won the next election in April 2000. Greece , with a history that has shaped the modern world, looks to the future and further development of better relationships with its neighbours.