Constantine Karamanlis; Former President of Greece
Statesman Constantine Karamanlis, revered for helping restore Greece’s democracy after military dictatorships, died of heart failure Thursday. He was 91.
Karamanlis died in the intensive care unit of an Athens hospital, after a viral infection set in following an April 12 heart attack.
Karamanlis’ health had been in decline since he retired in 1995 after his second term as president, ending a 60-year political career that included six premierships.
“The great leader who inspired Greece has passed into history,” said Costas Karamanlis, a nephew and head of the main opposition conservative New Democracy party, founded by his uncle in 1974. “His vision will always lead us.”
Karamanlis’ tenure covered many of the nation’s defining moments this century: the rise and fall of the monarchy; the Nazi occupation during World War II and the civil war that followed; the 1967-74 military junta; and, finally, Greece’s recognition as a full Western European ally.
He was often referred to as a “savior” of the nation for helping restore democracy in 1974.
His measured--almost regal--manner set him apart from many of his political peers.
“I detest passion in politics. Passion obscures issues and blinds citizens to the truth,” he once said.
Karamanlis’ funeral will be Friday at a small church in the Athens suburb of Filothei. Only close relatives and colleagues are invited.