Karamanlis Constantinos

Prime minister of Greece from October 1955 until November 1963 and from July 1974 until May 1980. Konstantinos Karamanlis also served twice as President of the Republic (1980-1985, 1990-1995).

He was born at Proti village, in the prefecture of Serres, on March 9, 1907. Originally he became a lawyer and exercised his profession at the city of Serres. He got into politics in 1935, when he was elected Member of Parliament with the Popular Party at Serres. He was re-elected MP in 1936. During Metaxa's dictatorship (1936-40) and during the occupation by the German Military Forces, he retired from politics. After Liberation he re-entered politics and in the elections of 1946 and 1950 he was reelected MP with the Popular Party. When retired General Papagos formed the "Greek Alert" party he left the Popular Party and joined "Greek Alert" under which he was elected MP at Serres in 1951 and 1952.

Between 1946 and 1952 he served many times as a Minister. He was first appointed Minister of Labour in the government of K. Tsaldaris on November 24, 1946 until the end of February 1947. In 1948 he became Minister of Transport at the government of Themistoklis Sofoulis and then Minister of Welfare in January 1950. Between January and November 1950 he kept the Ministry of Defence in the government of Sofoklis Venizelos and in the government formed by Alexandros Papagos he was Minister of Public Works.

Konstantinos Karamanlis distinguished for his term at the Ministry of Welfare where he achieved the repatriation of 100.000 village refugees in the cities, back to their villages where they were previously struck by the guerillas, and also for his term at the Ministry of Public Works. During that term the highway from Athens to Korinthos was constructed, as well as the larger part of the highway from Athens to Thessaloniki, followed by the embellishment of the area around Acropolis and the hill of Filopappou.

In 1955 he was appointed Prime Minister by King Paul, in order to substitute for Papagos who was soon to die. In the next four months he established the National Radical Union which 190 MPs joined. As the leader of the N.R.U. he won three elections in 1956, 1958 and 1961 and was the prime minister until November 1963. At the 1963 elections the N.R.U. lost to Center Union under Georgios Papandreou and he resigned N.R.U.'s leadership and left to Paris where he lived until the political changeover in 1974.

He returned to Greece on July 24 1974 and formed, as a Prime Minister, the National coalition government. In the elections of November 1974 his party, New Democracy came first with 54% and in the subsequent elections of 1977 first again with 41%. Great achievements of Karamanlis' governing after the political changeover were the legalisation of the Communist Party and the rendering of the greek citizenship to communist party followers who came back from the exile where they were aftr the 1946-49 civil war, as well as his personal approach to most of the then communist countries. During 1975-78 Karamanlis personally visited all the countries that were satellites to the then Soviet Union and in October 1979 he visited the Soviet Union and in November the People's Republic of China. He also made similar openings to the Arabic world.

Moreover among his governments major achievements was Greece's inclusion at the European Economic Community in May 1979.

He served as President of the Republic from May 1980 until May 1985 when he resigned after PASOK decided not to support his candidature for a new term. He was re-elected as president in May 1990 and remained in the Presidential seat till March 9th, 1995, the day of his 88th birthday.

Since then he has lived in his house in the northern suburbs of Athens where most of his time is devoted to his archives.

© 1996 Macedonian Press Agency