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The ‘Megali Idea’ (The Grand Idea)

big idea map

From the time that the new Greek nation was established at the end of the War of Independence, the driving force in Greek foreign policy was the idea of expanding Greek borders to include the large Greek populations that had been part of the Byzantine Empire.

Thessaly had already been added in 1878 or 1881 (accounts differ), as well as southern Ipiros (Epirus) ceded by the Ottomans, Crete had been added in 1913, and, in those same years (with the Balkan Wars, as detailed), the parts of Macedonia and the northeast Aegean islands had come within Greek borders.

Eleftherios Venizelos was elected Prime Minister in 1910 after having led the campaign for liberation of Crete from the Ottomans, and it was he who organized the alliance with Balkan powers to drive the Ottomans out. Venizelos also revised the constitution and introduced liberal social reforms.