Greece bids farewell to former PM Konstantinos Mitsotakis

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-29 19:30:50|Editor: MJ
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By Maria Spiliopoulou

ATHENS, May 29 (Xinhua) -- Greek political leaders Monday bid farewell to former prime minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis, who passed away early hours of Monday aged 98.

The conservative politician, who served as prime minister from 1990 to 1993, is seen as as one of the leading politicians in the country.

Family of Mitsotakis announced that he died "surrounded by persons he loved and who loved him."

"Konstaninos Mitsotakis left his mark on the political life of this country," Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos said in an e-mailed statement released from his office.

"With the loss of Konstantinos Mitsotakis, a great chapter in the history of this country is closing... He was one of the protagonists in our modern political history. He had a major contribution to the consolidation of democracy and Greece's European course," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in a press release issued from his office.

Political leaders from the Right to the Left expressed condolences to his family, acknowledging his leading role in Greek politics for several decades.

Born in Chania city on Crete island on Oct. 18, 1918, Mitsotakis was the nephew of liberal statesman Eleftherios Venizelos.

After studying law and economics at the University of Athens and fighting in WWII against Nazi occupation, he was first elected to parliament in 1946 with the liberals.

Konstantinos Mitsotakis served in several cabinet posts, including finance minister in the early 1960s.

He also served as deputy with the Center Union, the party of George Papandreou, the grandfather of former prime minister George Papandreou (2009-2011) until 1965 when he led a group of dissidents who abandoned Papandreou's government.

In 1967 at the start of the seven-year military junta rule, Mitsotakis was arrested along with other politicians. He managed to flee Greece and lived in exile in Paris until the restoration of democracy in 1974.

In 1977, he re-entered the parliament as the head of the small neoliberal party. A year later he joined the then governing New Democracy (ND) party, serving as finance minister and later as foreign minister, overseeing Greece's entry in the EU.

He was ND party leader in 1984, won the 1990 elections. He retired from active politics in 2004.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, son of Konstantinos Mitsotakis, said on social media that "Thank you for everything."

MP Dora Bakogiannis, who's also a former foreign minister, is the eldest of four children of Konstantinos. She said in an interview with local Focus FM on Monday that "My father had the courage to say bitter truths that Greek society was not ready to hear, but truth wins populism in the end."

As prime minister in the early 1990s Konstantinos Mitsotakis promoted unpopular austerity cuts in the public sector and privatizations.

The former prime minister will be buried at Chania on Thursday, it was announced.