Konstantinos Karamanlis: As of today, the man named “National” was born.

To this day, in 1907, one of them was born who marked the political history of Greece, Constantine Karamanlis, the politician who carved the course of Greece in the second half of the 20th century, thanks to insight and the feeling of responsibility towards the country and its people, did not speak much, was more man of actions. “In politics there are things that are done without saying, as there are things that are said without doing,” he would tell the House in February 1975 summarizing the interconnection of speeches and works in politics. Constantine Karamanlis served as the Prime Minister of the Third Hellenic Republic and twice President of the Hellenic Republic, on 5 May 1980 and 4 May 1990. He finally left public life in 1995, having completed 60 years of political life. During this time, he served as eight years’ Minister, fourteen Prime Minister and ten President of the Republic. Its most important achievement is the entry of Greece into the European Economic Community (EEC), today’s European Union (EU). He was born on 8 March 1907 in the town of First Serres, in Turkish-occupied Macedonia, six years before the Greek army’s advance. His father was George Karamanlis (1880 – 1932), a teacher and later a tobacco farmer, who fought in the Macedonian Struggle, while his mother was the Light Dologlou (1888–1940). He had three brothers and three sisters. He studied at the Law School of the University of Athens. After serving a military term of 4 months as a member of a multi-journal family, he practiced law in Serres from 1930 to 1935. He was first elected MP in 1935, at the age of 28, with the anti-Veniselic People’s Party and was re-elected MP in 1936, in the last election before World War II. The dictatorship of August 4, 1936 interrupted his political career. He returned to Serres, where he practiced law until 1941. During the occupation he remained in Athens without actively engaging in politics. His name will be known in the nationwide since his tenure as Minister of Public Works in the Papagos government (1952-1955). It will do very important work, with the construction of basic infrastructure projects (geo-improvement projects, roads, energy units, water supply projects etc.). He took over, in October 1955, as the successor of Alexander Papagos, the Pre-Create, which he retained, after three successful election contests, until June 1963, when he submitted his resignation due to disagreement with King Paul. Since then, he remained abroad for 11 years. The primary care of Karamanlis was the planning and implementation of a program of rapid economic growth, in a country that was still experiencing the consequences of the devastating civil war. The upward course of the economy will enable him to turn, over time, towards strengthening education, culture and sport. Outside, in 1959, Constantine Karamanlis co-signed the Zurich-London agreements, with which Cyprus became an independent state. He received strict criticism of these agreements, which they secured as an equal partner in Turkey’s grandeur. The key point in his foreign policy is in the effort to integrate Greece into the European Economic Community. Constantine Karamanlis believed that the EEC was not simply a financial consortium, but an entity with broader political tasks and importance. After painful two-year negotiations, Greece will be accepted into the original Six group as the first associated member on July 9, 1961. After his clash with the palace in the early 1960s he resigned from the premiership in 1963. Main opposition leader and president of the “Centre Union” George Papandreou had declared the adamant struggle, accusing Karamanlis of winning the 1961 election with violence and deceit, while the murder of Labraki by parastatians in Thessaloniki had cast a heavy shadow on the country. “Who finally rules this place,” Karamanlis said. He left for Paris under the pseudonym “Triantafyllidis” and remained until 1974. After the fall of the dictatorial regime of the Colonels Junta on 24 July 1974, Karamanlis returned to Athens on the plane of the French presidency. He became prime minister with great public support. He established, under his presidency, the Government of National Unity, which also actively faced the need for the immediate reopening of the democratic state and the response to the national crisis that had arisen since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. He prevailed in two successive election contests during 1974 and 1977, ensuring the uninterrupted exercise of power until his resignation from active politics, in 1980. He legalized the KKE while moving on to Greece’s withdrawal from NATO’s military arm as a reaction to the Alliance’s refusal to oppose the Turkish advance to Cyprus (Attila 2) and replaced the Hundred Leadership of the Armed Forces. In 1974, he founded the New Democracy party with which he won in 1974 and 1977 the national elections and served as Prime Minister until 1980. In 1980 he resigned after the signing of the Treaty of Accession of Greece to the EEC. “We belong to the West” Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis submitted on 12 June 1975 an application for full membership of Greece in the EEC. In October of the same year he states to the House that the government “interpreting the feeling of the great majority of the Greek people declared right from the start that our country belongs to West and in particular to Western Europe.” This phrase will be a field of intense confrontation with Andreas Papandreou who then strongly disagreed with the prospect of the country joining the EU (then EEC). In fact, two years later Constantine Karamanlis himself will intervene in a parliamentary debate by publicly denouncing Andreas Papandreou for his continued criticism of this report. “Excuse me! Why do you repeat it, we belong to the West? Certainly we belong to the West. Greece, from tradition you want out of interests, belongs to the western world,” said Karamanlis addressing Andreas Papandreou, who insisted in his response? “We prefer to belong to the Greeks”. Historian Constantine Svolopoulos had explained that Karamanlis had made it clear in Parliament that with this historical phrase he did not in any way imply that we were “captains of the West”. In the six years 1974-1980 and despite the international energy crisis, which has also hit our country, national income has increased at a rate of 5% per year, while per capita income has increased 50%. In foreign policy, Greece’s accession to the EEC, the diplomatic openings of neighbouring communist countries and Moscow are recorded in its assets. In the second premiership he became the target of fierce criticism by all parties for his policy in Cyprus and was accused of using the media in a scandalous way for self-promotion. Other “agathia” of 1974-1980 was the scandal of leaking issues of the Panhellenic exams in June 1979, with Karamanlis not accepting the resignation of the Minister of Education Varvitsiotis, the devastating fires in Parnitha in 1977 with 5,000 acres of forest burning, the abolition of the Perama motorway, which was the last road system in Greece until the reopening of the tram in 2004. The Greek parliament elected Karamanlis President of the Republic in mid-1980, a position which he served until 1985 when he resigned. One of Constantine Karamanlis’ biggest political disappointments was Andreas Papandreou’s decision not to renew his term of office in the Presidency of the Republic in 1985, even though he had assured him otherwise, as he did in public last year. However, the “National”, a title often attributed to him by his supporters, publicly voiced his disagreement about the decision of the ND and the Single Coalition to send Andrew Papandreou to the Special Court for the Koskota scandal. “An ex-prime minister you don’t send him to jail, you send him home ” he reportedly sued the leadership of the ND, although years later Constantine Mitsotakis argued that Karamanlis never mentioned anything to him about the citation of Andreas Papandreou. In 1989 and in the midst of the country’s political crisis he said the famous phrase: His phrase was interpreted in a variety of ways. Some argued that the proposal of PASOK MPs stood as a witness to the House for the Koskota scandal because he had once met the big banker at a reception. Others felt that he was referring to the bizarre political ferments of the NW with the Coalition and some said that he objected to the recent adoption of the simple analogue electoral system at the time. However, no one disagreed with the accuracy of the finding. In 1990 he was re-elected President by the New Democracy government majority led by Constantine Mitsotakis and served until 1995, when he was succeeded in the Presidency by Kostis Stefanopoulos. Karamanlis did not express his feelings easily. Perhaps the only time this happened in public was in 1992 during his last presidential term, amid the storm that had erupted on the “Macedonian issue”. “I hope that our allies and partners will finally understand that there is but one Macedonia. And Macedonia is Greek, ” stated from Macedonia Airport. Constantine Karamanlis retired from politics in 1995, at the age of 88, having won 5 parliamentary elections and served as 8 years’ minister, 14 prime minister, 10 President of the Republic, and a total of more than 60 years in active politics. He died on April 23, 1998, at the age of 91. His records are kept at the “Constantine Karamanlis” Foundation. Information from Constantinos Karamanlis Foundation, Wikipedia Photo source: RES-AED