Kostas Karamanlis

Kostas Karamanlis

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Konstantinos Alexandrou Karamanlis, known as Kostas Karamanlis (Constantine Alexander Karamanlis, , konstanˈtinos alekˈsanðru ˈkostas karamanˈlis; born 14 September 1956) is a former Prime Minister of Greece
Prime Minister of Greece
The Prime Minister of Greece , officially the Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic , is the head of government of the Hellenic Republic and the leader of the Greek cabinet. The current interim Prime Minister is Lucas Papademos, a former Vice President of the European Central Bank, following...

 and former president of the right-conservative New Democracy
New Democracy (Greece)
New Democracy is the main centre-right political party and one of the two major parties in Greece. It was founded in 1974 by Konstantinos Karamanlis and formed the first cabinet of the Third Hellenic Republic...

 party, founded by his uncle Konstantinos Karamanlis. He served as Prime Minister for two consecutive terms, winning the 7 March 2004 parliamentary elections
Greek legislative election, 2004
Legislative elections were held in Greece on March 7, 2004. At stake were 300 seats in the Greek Parliament, the Vouli . The New Democracy Party of Kostas Karamanlis won a decisive victory in the elections, ending eleven years of rule by the Panhellenic Socialist Movement .PASOK was led into the...

 and the 16 September 2007 parliamentary elections. However, he asked for mid-term general elections
Greek legislative election, 2009
Parliamentary elections were held in Greece on 4 October 2009. An election was not required until September 2011.On 2 September Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis announced he would request President Karolos Papoulias to dissolve Parliament and call an election...

 to be held on 4 October 2009. The main reason for the mid-term election was the narrow majority his party enjoyed in Parliament that could not guarantee a stable government needed to handle the economic crisis and its repercussions. On 5 October 2009, Karamanlis conceded defeat in the Greek legislative election
Greek legislative election, 2009
Parliamentary elections were held in Greece on 4 October 2009. An election was not required until September 2011.On 2 September Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis announced he would request President Karolos Papoulias to dissolve Parliament and call an election...

 and resigned as president of the New Democracy party after 12 years as its leader, after an election victory for the opposition PASOK
Panhellenic Socialist Movement
The Panhellenic Socialist Movement , known mostly by its acronym PASOK , is one of the two major political parties in Greece. Founded on 3 September 1974 by Andreas Papandreou, in 1981 PASOK became Greece's first social democratic party to win a majority in parliament.The party is a socialist party...

.

Political career


Kostas Karamanlis
Karamanlis
Karamanlis may refer to:*Karamania, a region of Asia Minor in Turkey*Karamanlides, an Eastern Orthodox Christian who speaks TurkishKaramanlis is also the name of a prominent Greek family whose members include:...

, a nephew of former Greek President Konstantinos Karamanlis, was born in Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 and studied at University of Athens Law School and at the private Deree College
Deree College
DEREE - The American College of Greece is a private Center of Post-Lyceum Education, non-profit American institution of higher education, located in Athens, Greece. Its 64-acre main campus is located in the northeastern Athenian suburb of Aghia Paraskevi. DEREE-ACG is fully accredited by the New...

, continuing with postgraduate studies in the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University
Tufts University
Tufts University is a private research university located in Medford/Somerville, near Boston, Massachusetts. It is organized into ten schools, including two undergraduate programs and eight graduate divisions, on four campuses in Massachusetts and on the eastern border of France...

 in the United States, where he gained a master's degree and a doctorate in political sciences, international relations and diplomatic history.

Karamanlis served in New Democracy's organisational and ideological sectors from 1974 to 1979 and from 1984 to 1989. He is the author of a book, Eleftherios Venizelos and Foreign Relations of Greece, 1928–32, on the Greek politician Eleftherios Venizelos
Eleftherios Venizelos
Eleftherios Venizelos was an eminent Greek revolutionary, a prominent and illustrious statesman as well as a charismatic leader in the early 20th century. Elected several times as Prime Minister of Greece and served from 1910 to 1920 and from 1928 to 1932...

. He has also edited and prefaced various historical publications.

Karamanlis was elected a New Democracy deputy for Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

 in 1989, but in 2004 he was elected for Larissa
Larissa
Larissa is the capital and biggest city of the Thessaly region of Greece and capital of the Larissa regional unit. It is a principal agricultural centre and a national transportation hub, linked by road and rail with the port of Volos, the city of Thessaloniki and Athens...

. He was elected party leader in 1997 following New Democracy's defeat in the 1996 election. He defeated the ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement
Panhellenic Socialist Movement
The Panhellenic Socialist Movement , known mostly by its acronym PASOK , is one of the two major political parties in Greece. Founded on 3 September 1974 by Andreas Papandreou, in 1981 PASOK became Greece's first social democratic party to win a majority in parliament.The party is a socialist party...

 (PASOK) at the 2004 elections
Greek legislative election, 2004
Legislative elections were held in Greece on March 7, 2004. At stake were 300 seats in the Greek Parliament, the Vouli . The New Democracy Party of Kostas Karamanlis won a decisive victory in the elections, ending eleven years of rule by the Panhellenic Socialist Movement .PASOK was led into the...

.

He served as Vice President of the European People's Party
European People's Party
The European People's Party is a pro-European centre-right European political party. The EPP was founded in 1976 by Christian democratic parties, but later it increased its membership to include conservative parties and parties of other centre-right perspectives.The EPP is the most influential of...

 (EPP) between 1999 and 2006.

Karamanlis was the first Greek Prime Minister to be born after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. He married Natasa Pazaïti
Natasa Pazaïti
Anastasia Pazaiti-Karamanli , is the wife of Kostas Karamanlis, former Prime Minister of Greece. She is a resident general surgeon.-Background, studies, career:She was born in Epanomi, Thessaloníki Prefecture, Greece in 1966...

 in 1998; they have two children (a twined boy and girl), born on 13 June 2003.

Prime Minister


Aided by the unpopularity of the incumbent PASOK government led by Costas Simitis
Costas Simitis
Konstantinos Simitis , usually referred to as Costas Simitis or Kostas Simitis, was Prime Minister of Greece and leader of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement from 1996 to 2004.- Biography :...

 (a party that had been in power between 1981—1989 and from 1993—2004) ND defeated the Socialists' George Andreas Papandreou
George Andreas Papandreou
Georgios A. Papandreou , commonly anglicised to George and shortened to Γιώργος in Greek, is a Greek politician who served as Prime Minister of Greece following his party's victory in the 2009 legislative election...

 in 2004. Karamanlis stated that the priorities of his government were education, economic policy, agricultural policy, lowering the high level of unemployment (standing at 11.2%) and a more transparent and effective state administration. Economic policy centered on tax cuts, investment incentives and market deregulation. While early problems included a large public debt (about 112% of GDP) and a budget deficit (5.3% of the GDP) in excess of Eurozone
Eurozone
The eurozone , officially called the euro area, is an economic and monetary union of seventeen European Union member states that have adopted the euro as their common currency and sole legal tender...

 stability rules, Karamanlis's government halved the budget deficit to 2.6% by 2006.

Another key issue was the 2004 Summer Olympics
2004 Summer Olympics
The 2004 Summer Olympic Games, officially known as the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad, was a premier international multi-sport event held in Athens, Greece from August 13 to August 29, 2004 with the motto Welcome Home. 10,625 athletes competed, some 600 more than expected, accompanied by 5,501 team...

 scheduled to be held in Athens in the first year of his government: several key buildings were unfinished at the time of the election, the security budget had increased to €970 million and authorities announced that a roof would no longer be constructed over the main swimming venue. The main Olympic Stadium, the designated facility for the opening and closing ceremonies, was completed only two months before the games opened, with the sliding over of a futuristic glass roof designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. Other facilities, such as the streetcar line linking the city and the airport were largely unfinished just two months before the games. The subsequent pace of preparation, however, made the rush to finish the Athens venues one of the tightest in Olympics history and everything was finished just on time for the Opening Ceremony. At the end, the Games were held exactly as planned and were globally hailed as a spectacular success. Nonetheless and as a result of the delays, large cost overruns resulted in a deficit in the national accounts above EU stipulations. The ND government and the previous administration of Costas Simitis
Costas Simitis
Konstantinos Simitis , usually referred to as Costas Simitis or Kostas Simitis, was Prime Minister of Greece and leader of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement from 1996 to 2004.- Biography :...

 criticized each other for the messy preparations. PASOK criticized the New Democracy government for using the Olympics as a pretext to renege on promises.
Under the weight of the huge costs (estimated at €7bn), the deficit shot up to 5.3%. Karamanlis declared that "Social policy was done with borrowed cash, military spending did not show up on the budget, debts were created in secret".

Financial audit of 2004


In March 2004, while PASOK was still in government, Eurostat refused to validate the fiscal data transmitted by the Greek government and asked for a revision, as it had done previously -twice- in 2002, then resulting in a revision which changed the government balance from a surplus to a deficit.

A worse blow came in May 2004, when the European Commission harshly accused Greece of "imprudent" and "sloppy" fiscal policies, pointing out that since Greek economic growth had been an annual 4% in 2000–2003, a declining fiscal position could only be the result of government mismanagement, including concerns by the EU regarding the 103% public debt to GDP ratio which Karamanlis inherited from the previous PASOK regime. With this report, the Commission effectively called into question the quality of Greek economic data, as the Eurostat had done in March.

The New Democracy government under Karamanlis, elected on April of that year, decided to conduct a Financial Audit of the Greek economy, before sending revised data to Eurostat. The audit concluded that the PASOK administration and prime minister Costas Simitis had falsified Greece's macroeconomic statistics, on the basis of which the European institutions accepted Greece to join the Eurozone. PASOK contested the accusations and claimed that 2006 Eurostat changes to the system of defense expenditure calculation legitimized the practices of the Costas Simitis government. New Democracy responded that the defense expenditures covered by those changes constituted only a small part of much more substantial expenditures that were fraudulently concealed by the previous PASOK government.

Rising unemployment and the threat of inflation undermined Karamanlis' promises to kick-start the economy and sparked strikes, especially one in 2006 by rubbish collectors, causing severe disruption in the economy – particularly the one in July 2005 at the height of the tourist season.

In early 2006, it was revealed that the cellular phone of Costas Karamanlis, as well as those of several other members of the government and officials of the armed forces, had been tapped for several months during and after the 2004 Athens Olympics. The investigation into this matter by the Greek organization for communications privacy was closed with the argument that if this investigation would carry on, the information revealed would be dangerous for the national
security of Greece.

The government has undertaken a 210 million euro program to bolster broadband internet connectivity in provincial Greece, which was approved by the European Commission in 2006 with the commendation that it constituted "the most ambitious broadband development program that any EU member has ever undertaken".

In matters of social policy, Karamanlis's government has followed a largely liberal policy. In the spring of 2006, the Ministry of Education repealed a law continuously in effect from 1936 (including 20 years of socialist rule), which required approval by the local Orthodox Christian Metropolitan for the building of non-Orthodox houses of worship.

At the outset of the year, prime minister Karamanlis announced the initiative of his government for a new amendment to the Constitution
Constitution of Greece
The Constitution of Greece , was created by the Fifth Revisional Parliament of the Hellenes and entered into force in 1975. It has been revised three times since, most significantly in 1986, and also in 2001 and in 2008. The Constitutional history of Greece goes back to the Greek War of...

. He stated that one of the central issues of this amendment will be the legalisation of private universities in Greece, operating on a non-profit basis. Greece has for years experienced a mass exodus of "educational immigrants" to other countries' Higher Education institutions, where they move to study; this creates a chronic problem for Greece, in terms of loss of capital as well as human resources, since many of those students opt to seek employment in the countries they studied, after getting their degrees (it is characteristic Greece is by far the leading country in the world in terms of students abroad as a percentage of the general population, with 5250 students per million, compared to second Malaysia's 1780 students per million inhabitants). Proponents of non-state owned Universities claim that the State's constitutionally mandated monopoly on Higher Education is responsible for these problems.

Attempted changes in Greek higher education have encountered fierce opposition from the other parties, as well as from the majority of the academic community, both professors and students. An attempt to pass several changes concerning the operation of Greek universities resulted in large-scale demonstrations, mounting to tens of thousands protesters, and, finally, the closure of most institutions by protesting students in the summer of 2006. The semester's exam period was lost and postponed for the fall, while the government shelved the changes and claimed that no bill would be put to a parliamentary vote before a more extensive dialogue has been held with students. However, without any further dialogue, the legislation passed in 2007.

2007 re-election


In the 2007 general election, Karamanlis was re-elected with a diminished
Diminished
Diminished is to make smaller or less or to cause to appear so.Diminished may also refer to:*Diminution in Music*Diminished: A song in alternative rock band R.E.M.'s 1998 album Up↑...

 majority
Majority
A majority is a subset of a group consisting of more than half of its members. This can be compared to a plurality, which is a subset larger than any other subset; i.e. a plurality is not necessarily a majority as the largest subset may consist of less than half the group's population...

, following the 2007 Greek forest fires
2007 Greek forest fires
The 2007 Greek forest fires were a series of massive forest fires that broke out in several areas across Greece throughout the summer of 2007. The most destructive and lethal infernos broke out on August 23, expanded rapidly and raged out of control until August 27, until they were put out in early...

 that ravaged much of western Peloponese and southern Euboea
Euboea
Euboea is the second largest Greek island in area and population, after Crete. The narrow Euripus Strait separates it from Boeotia in mainland Greece. In general outline it is a long and narrow, seahorse-shaped island; it is about long, and varies in breadth from to...

. He pledged to continue with his reform and privatization programme as well as form a new Cabinet.

On 19 September. 2007, he presented a new cabinet.

2009 elections


In the 2009 general election
Greek legislative election, 2009
Parliamentary elections were held in Greece on 4 October 2009. An election was not required until September 2011.On 2 September Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis announced he would request President Karolos Papoulias to dissolve Parliament and call an election...

, Karamanlis and New Democracy were voted out of the government. He stepped down on 30 November after elections within the New Democracy party for the election of new party leader.

Criticism


The prime minister came under criticism during the wild fires of 2007
2007 Greek forest fires
The 2007 Greek forest fires were a series of massive forest fires that broke out in several areas across Greece throughout the summer of 2007. The most destructive and lethal infernos broke out on August 23, expanded rapidly and raged out of control until August 27, until they were put out in early...

. With hundreds of thousands of acres burning and many deaths, the government has faced growing scrutiny for its response to the fires. In the days following the fires and the seeming lack of a substantial fire-fighting response adequate to stop the blazes, the government suggested the process was not natural and the work of arsonists.

A group of Pakistani men has claimed that they were abducted by Greek and British intelligence agents in the wake of the 7 July 2005 London bombings
7 July 2005 London bombings
The 7 July 2005 London bombings were a series of co-ordinated suicide attacks in the United Kingdom, targeting civilians using London's public transport system during the morning rush hour....

. The governments of Greece, Pakistan and Britain have denied accusations that they were involved in the alleged detention of 28 Pakistanis for several days in Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 and Ioannina after the 7 July bombings in London. The prosecutor assigned to the case says he has no evidence of who committed the abductions, but the main opposition party PASOK
Panhellenic Socialist Movement
The Panhellenic Socialist Movement , known mostly by its acronym PASOK , is one of the two major political parties in Greece. Founded on 3 September 1974 by Andreas Papandreou, in 1981 PASOK became Greece's first social democratic party to win a majority in parliament.The party is a socialist party...

 has called for the resignation of Greek public order minister Georgios Voulgarakis
Georgios Voulgarakis
Georgios Voulgarakis is a Greek politician and the former Minister for Mercantile Marine, Aegean Sea and Island Policy.Voulgarakis was born in Crete and holds a PhD in economics from the University of Athens. He is a member of the New Democracy party...

. An unnamed human rights group (possibly biased) also called for the resignation of the Prime Minister, Kostas Karamanlis over the allegations. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/greek-minister-urged-to-quit-over-abduction-of-pakistani-immigrants-477956.html http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4763777.stm http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P1-123374193.html http://www.greekembassy.org/embassy/content/en/Article.aspx?office=3&folder=361&article=16521

A number of serious scandals involving Karamanlis' closest ministers and members of his party surfaced during his term, damaging his public image severely. Karamanlis was largely elected in 2004 due to his plea to "clear" public life from corruption.

Another criticism against Karamanlis and his cabinet involved the 2008 riots
2008 civil unrest in Greece
The 2008 Greek riots started on 6 December 2008, when Alexandros Grigoropoulos , a 15-year-old student, was killed by two policemen in Exarcheia district of central Athens...

, which started after the killing of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos by a police officer; police said Grigoropoulos was with a company of 4 teenagers who used hard language to a few policemen by a car. One officer has been charged, and Reuters noted that "Greece has a tradition of violence at student rallies and fire bomb attacks by anarchist groups." Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 called for a speedy investigation. The death of Grigoropoulos resulted in large demonstrations and widespread riots in major Greek and foreign cities. It is widely believed that the deep reason behind this unrest of the youth was reaction to the scandalous life of Karamanlis' close circle. http://itn.co.uk/news/d1d55f92bd731702e8c9bdf3f29d810e.html http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE4B601720081209?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews

After he left office, many in Greece continued to blame the New Democracy governments of Karamanlis for economic difficulties, and both financial markets and Greece's EU partners chastised the country for vastly underestimated budget deficits under his watch
.

External links


New Democracy website Kostas Karamanlis on the Charlie Rose Show, 16 September 2005
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