The school in Greece is compulsory for 9 years from the ages of 6 to 15 years. Virtually all education is public and free for all. The primary school is 6 years old. All children go on to 3-year secondary school.
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The high school is 3 years old. Since 1997, upper secondary schools (lykeio) have not been line-divided, but offer one-year general basic courses followed by two-year specialization courses in various specializations. About. 80% of young people complete upper secondary education. Greece has 19 universities and colleges with university status, as well as 14 technological colleges, all of which are state. The oldest universities are located in Athens (founded 1836 and 1837) and in Thessaloniki (1925). In 2001, 63% of young people received higher education.
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The education system is centralized. An intergovernmental national education committee establishes education policy, which is administered by the Ministry of Education and regional directorates. Centrally established curricula apply to the entire country.
In 2002, illiteracy was estimated at approx. 2.5% of the adult population.
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In December 1999, Greece and Macedonia signed an agreement on military cooperation. Several years of diplomatic clashes were thus resolved. Turkey’s approach to new heights reached when Foreign Minister Ismail Cem demanded the return of the cultural treasures the English have stolen from the Parthenon Temple, which is on display at the British Museum in London today.
In March 2000, Greece asked for entry into the EU’s Euro area. The April 2000 parliamentary elections became one of the most equal in the country’s history. PASOK won a narrow victory over the Conservatives led by Kostas Karamanlis. Despite the fine counting of the “technically dead race” between the two parties, Prime Minister Kostas Simitis got 30 MPs behind him more than Karamanlis’ New Democracy. That’s because of the electoral laws that favor the victor. Still, the result was a defeat for Simitis who, in confidence in the country’s high economic growth, had accelerated the election to improve its parliamentary base.
The murder of a British military attaché again brought the terrorist group to the media on November 17. It has murdered 17 people for 25 years without the arrest of any of the group’s members. Papandreou promised a “relentless” response to the assassination, and Simitis declared that his government would not tolerate anyone “reversing progress or tarnishing Greece’s modern, peaceful and democratic image”. Nevertheless, international experts believed that members of both the current and past governments have perfect knowledge of the members of the November 17 group and possibly are holding their hand over them.
In June, the Archbishop of the Greek Catholic Church, Christodoulos, called for a demonstration against the government’s plan to no longer register people’s religion on their state personal identity card. He stated that: “People’s beliefs oppose this attempt to marginalize religion”. The state-church crisis erupted when Simitis stated that the identity of the Greeks’ religious affiliation would be erased by the identity papers so that they could meet the privacy requirements. The prime minister would also remove the registration of fingerprints, the person’s profession and the spouse’s name from the identity card.
Relations with Turkey improved significantly when the Kurdish separatist leader Abdullah Õcalan was captured in 1999. According to information in the media, the capture took place after considerable cooperation between the intelligence services of the two countries, which allowed Turkey to pursue him and kidnap him in Kenya.
In 2002, Greece and Turkey offered to act as mediators in the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. The fact that the two ancient hereditary enemies – Greece and Turkey – jointly made the proposal was proof that peace is possible. In March, the two countries signed an agreement on the construction of a gas pipeline through which Turkey will ship 500,000 cubic meters of natural gas daily to Greece. Turkish Minister of Energy Zeki Cakan took the opportunity to declare that cooperation in the field of energy will also improve political and economic relations.
The March 2004 election was won by the conservative New Democracy, which replaced Konstantinos Karamanlis at the prime minister’s post. In February 2005, Karolos Papoulias from New Democracy was elected president by a large majority in parliament. He was posted on the post March 12.
The Greek parliament ratified the new EU constitution in April 2005. The constitution lapsed when it was voted down in May in referendums in France and the Netherlands.
In May 2006, two intelligence officials were formally charged for the abduction and interrogation of two Pakistanis, suspected of participating in the London Underground attack.
In February 2007, Prime Minister Karamanlis survived a vote of no confidence in Parliament with 162 votes against the opposition’s 122. The Socialists accused him of incompetence. Karamanlis subsequently stated that he would continue his reform policy in education and health. He was re-elected for a second term when his party won the parliamentary elections in September 2007 and gained 152 seats out of the parliament’s 300. Despite the absolute majority, it was a decline for the party.
In December 2008, Greek police executed a 15-year-old boy. The murder triggered widespread demonstrations against police violence and a general strike against the highly unpopular conservative government that would lose power if elections were held. For several years, the government’s economic policy has consisted in privatizations and deterioration of living conditions.