Karolos Papoulias, Greek President in Austerity Era, Dies at 92
(Bloomberg) -- Karolos Papoulias, the former Greek resistance fighter who became president of the Hellenic Republic and helped the country form a government during the euro crisis, died on Sunday. He was 92.
Current President Aikaterini Sakellaropoulou, who confirmed the death, said in her condolence message that he “honored with his morals and behavior the highest state institution, vigorously defending social cohesion and national unity.”
Papoulias was elected president in February 2005 and remained in the post until 2015. He coordinated discussions for the formation of a national unity government under Prime Minister Lucas Papademos in November 2011 during the euro crisis, which triggered mass demonstrations in Greek cities against austerity measures designed to keep the country in the euro area. National elections were held in June 2012.
A member of Andreas Papandreou’s government during the 1980s and 1990s, Papoulias served as foreign minister, helping out during times of conflict in the Middle East.
Elected as a lawmaker to Greece’s parliament for the social-democratic Pasok party in every national election from 1977 to 2004, he played a key role in arranging the 1983 evacuation of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and other Palestinians on Greek ships from Lebanon during that country’s civil war.
During Papandreou’s administration, he sought to improve relations with Egypt and Turkey and helped start European Union accession talks for the Republic of Cyprus. He also restored relations with Albania and signed a civil- and military-assistance agreement with Bulgaria, with which he negotiated on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline in 1988.
Papoulias was born on June 4, 1929, in Ioannina, a city in the Epirus region of northwest Greece. His father, Grigorios Papoulias, was a major-general in the military who died when his son was 7.
The future president attended high schools in Pogoniani and Athens. During the German occupation of Greece during World War II, Papoulias was among the first to join the armed resistance while he was a school student.
He later studied law at universities in Athens, Milan and Cologne, and wrote a doctoral thesis on private international law, according to his website. Papoulias also worked for the Institute for South-Eastern Europe in Munich.
During the military coup in Greece in 1967, while he was in Germany, he joined the Socialist Democratic Union, which organized and mobilized Greeks residing in Western Europe against the junta. He was also a founding member of the first trade union resistance organization and broadcast regularly from the Deutsche Welle radio station, according to his website.
Papoulias was married to Maria Panou and had three daughters.
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