Country of the Year 2023: Recognizing Resilience, Defiance, and Progress

Country of the Year 2023: Recognizing Resilience, Defiance, and Progress

Amidst a bleak global landscape, two sets of countries emerge as contenders for the prestigious annual award.

Historians may not look back on 2023 with fondness, as conflicts, autocratic regimes, and curtailed freedoms dominated the year. However, amidst the gloom, there are countries that have shown remarkable resilience, defiance, and progress. In our annual “country of the year” award, we seek to recognize the place that has improved the most, offering a glimmer of hope in a troubled world. While some may have despaired in their search for a bright spot, two groups of countries have emerged as deserving candidates for recognition in 2023.

Resisting Bullying and Aggression

Ukraine: Despite facing ongoing challenges, Ukraine valiantly continues its struggle against Vladimir Putin’s war machine, standing up to its autocratic neighbor.
Moldova: Resisting Russian intimidation, Moldova remains steadfast in its pursuit of sovereignty and independence.
Finland and Sweden: Finland’s decision to join the NATO alliance and Sweden’s imminent follow suit demonstrate their refusal to succumb to external pressures.
The Philippines: Defending its maritime boundaries against larger Chinese ships, the Philippines upholds the law of the sea.
Japan and South Korea: Setting aside historical grievances, Japan and South Korea deepen their cooperation, showcasing the power of reconciliation.
Tuvalu: The small island state of Tuvalu signs a treaty with Australia, insuring its population against climate change and securing protection against Chinese influence.

Defending Democracy and Liberal Values

Liberia: Despite its fragile state and scars of war, Liberia manages a peaceful transfer of power, upholding democratic principles.
Timor-Leste: Maintaining its reputation for respecting human rights and a free press, Timor-Leste successfully transitions power without compromising its values.
Thailand and Turkey: Although hope flickers in these mid-sized countries as the opposition pushes to eject autocratic regimes, the path to change remains challenging.
Brazil: Swearing in a center-left president, Brazil shifts away from divisive populism and takes steps to restore normalcy and protect the Amazon.
Poland: Withstanding the shock of neighboring conflicts and hosting a significant number of Ukrainian refugees, Poland raises defense spending and seeks to mend democratic institutions after a change in government.

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In a year marked by turmoil and oppression, Greece emerges as the deserving winner of the “country of the year” award. Overcoming a severe debt crisis and social unrest, Greece has made significant progress. While challenges remain, such as corruption and civil liberties, Greece’s transformation serves as a testament to resilience and determination. As we reflect on the events of 2023, it is crucial to recognize and celebrate the countries that have defied the odds, defended democracy, and charted a path towards progress.