Sanction Turkish airlines over Russia business

Tourism is crucial to Greece.

It accounts for nearly 20% of Greece’s gross domestic product and employs almost a million people in a country of just over 10 million. COVID-19 devastated the industry, but Athens was optimistic that tourism would bounce back this year. Then came Ukraine. While the European Union accounts for most tourists visiting Greece to sun on its beaches, browse its boutiques, or explore its ancient ruins, Russians traditionally have not been far behind. In the first 11 months of 2021, Russian visitors to Greece rose 350% over the previous year, contributing more than $115 million to the local economy. It has been less than a decade since Greece weathered a devastating financial crisis: In 2011, Greece’s real gross domestic product dropped more than 10%, while a decade ago, it contracted a further 7%.

Under such circumstances, it might be tempting for Athens to seek to profit off of the Ukraine crisis, but Greece today is a democracy. Greeks of all stripes turned their backs on populism, condemning Golden Dawn’s hate to oblivion. Greek leaders from across the political spectrum recognized that what the Ukraine crisis represents is not an opportunity to seek advantage but rather a struggle to preserve the post-World War II liberal order. By upholding EU sanctions, Athens incurred Moscow’s wrath. Almost overnight, the flow of Russian tourists stopped.

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