27 Νοεμβρίου 2013

…Just like Karamanlis

Today we probably say that “we are doing alright abroad, but domestically…”. The phrase has been attributed to Konstantinos Karamanlis in the late 1970s, when he was struggling to get Greece to join the European Union.

Karamanlis was traveling from country to country to secure the YES of the nine, at the time, European partners. The President of France Giscard d’Estaing, an outspoken supporter of the Greek case, helped the Greek Prime Minister in his efforts. But then there were the Germans… 

As soon as the discussions started, the Germans bursted out. The German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt said that “the Greeks will have to go over my dead body” when his assistant relayed to him Mr. Karamanlis request to join the EEC in 1975. The Prime Minister of Luxemburg Gaston Thorn who was in the Chancellor’s office at the time was surprised by Helmut Schmidt’s absolutism in dealing with the Greek request. The leadership of West Germany did not believe that Greece was capable and worthy of joining the EEC.

President Giscard (whose dream was a coastal plot in Pylos for his vacation) tried to turn Schmidt around – unsuccessfully.

Karamanlis had been informed by the Prime Minister of Luxemburg of the German resistance to the Greek request and asked for an “audience” with Schmidt. The German Chancellor set the meeting in Bonn. After the formalities, the two men where left alone in the garden of the official guesthouse of the German government. Karamanlis and Schmidt sat together in the garden and spoke for about two hours! – Schmidt had two German shepherds with him, while the police and armed escort where surveying from a distance.

The press never found out what he told Schmidt and managed to change his mind.

Karamanlis himself told the journalists that “we are doing alright abroad”, hinting that he was the target of the “irresponsible opposition” domestically.

Now, another Greek Prime Minister is relying on the support of the German political leadership.

Domestically, of course, we are not doing that great, but Mr. Samaras may have convinced Mrs. Merkel.

Stavros P. Psycharis

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http://www.tovima.gr/en/article/?aid=542433
- Originally published in the Sunday print edition






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