Monday, 18 November 2013

Blog entry on victims of the Athens Polytechnic uprising, 1973

I recently came across the very interesting blog of Damian Mac Con Uladh, staff journalist at EnetEnglish, the international online edition of the Eleftherotypia daily.

Excellent work by Damian Mac Con Uladh, who has also created a Google Map showing the location of each fatality.

Monday, 29 July 2013

The British and the 1973 Greek republic referendum

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the 1973 Greek republic referendum.

In this excerpt from my book on Britain and the Colonels, you can see how journalist Mario Modiano, talking to British officials well before the referendum, predicted, with uncanny precision, the exact percentage of the people who would vote 'Yes' to the constitutional changes. 
The fact that both foreign journalists and the British Embassy could so easily provide a accurate estimate of the result well in advance speaks volumes about the genuineness of the referendum.

The last important event of [1973's] ‘pretty gruelling summer’, as far as the domestic scene of Greece was concerned, was the referendum on the amended Greek constitution.
The junta had warned the British that they should not judge the referendum by British standards and members of the international press had expressed the certainty that it would be ‘a farce’. Mario Modiano [...] thought that the decision to abolish the monarchy had been taken a long time ago, told the British that the Colonels would not permit a repeat of the results of the 1968 plebiscite, in order to make them appear genuine: ‘If as seems likely they fudged the figures, they were likely to choose a more plausible percentage (like for example 78%)’ (emphasis added).
This was also the opinion of some FCO officials who had realized, as early as in June 1973, that there was ‘little doubt as to the outcome of the referendum, although the government, who were believed to be embarrassed by the very high yes-votes in 1968, might prefer a rather smaller percentage in their favour this time’.

The British conceded that it was ‘very easy’ to predict the outcome of the referendum, with the Colonels still controlling the levers of power and not being able to afford to lose.

[...] As [British official J F R] Martin admitted shortly before the referendum, ‘few observers doubt that the figure has been decided in advance to within a few per cent’.

Polling took place on 29 July to approve the new republican constitution and the appointment of Papadopoulos as president (reserving for him exclusive powers over defence, foreign affairs and internal security) and Angelis as vice-president.
The final results showed that ‘yes’ got the 78.4% of the votewhich was considered ‘a respectable looking percentage’ in London.
The British embassy’s own estimate had been 78% (emphasis added).
The British, however, were in no doubt that there had been ‘a good deal of malpractice’, as they were aware that before the referendum the junta had ‘used all its very considerable influence to ensure the desired result’. 
They also did not fail to notice that ‘something perhaps ha[d] changed’, as the regime had been taken by surprise by the strength of feeling against it, and that could result in the toughening of its attitude to palliate the hardliners. 
The British representative concluded his report on the events by writing that ‘one [could] not have much confidence that Greece [was] yet firmly on the road leading back to anything that Western Europe would recognise as democracy’ [pp. 185-186].

Monday, 22 July 2013

Britain and Karamanlis: British reaction to the restoration of democracy in Greece in 1974

It has now been thirty-nine years since the fall of the Junta and the restoration of democracy in Greece (triggered by the Turkish invasion of Cyprus). 

In an effort to help shed some more light on the events that transpired during the transition period, I present here a small excerpt from my research on the British reaction to the return of Konstantinos Karmanlis and his swearing-in as prime minister (as it appears on my latest book, Britain and the Greek Colonels).

Ίδρυμα Kωνσταντίνος Γ. Kαραμανλής © Copyright 2013
"[British foreign secretary, James] Callaghan thought that with the arrival of a democratic government in Greece, ‘British policy acquired a new element’, as ‘it was important for the Greek people and for international relations that Greek democracy should be strengthened’. The British thought they should ‘certainly welcome’ the return of Karamanlis (‘a politician of real status with popular following in the country’), but not become ‘over committed’ at that stage to his government, as it was considered able to stay in power only if it could ‘deliver the goods’. The British were content to see that the new government had ‘a strong pro-NATO pro-Western Europe bias’ and had been greeted with relief by supporters of the two major parties.
As [British ambassador in Athens, Sir Robin] Hooper reported to the Foreign Office: ‘[t]he present Government is as good as we are likely to get but it is far from being the “ecumenical” Government which some hoped for after the return of Karamanlis’ (emphasis added).
What troubled him, though, were the negative aspects of Greek political life: ‘The bickering and factionalism endemic in Greek politics has alas begun to reappear, and it is much to be feared that even in the present critical situation the politicians inside the Government will soon start squabbling. Those outside are unlikely to refrain from destructive criticism’ (emphasis added)."

For more information on how Whitehall viewed Karamanlis, visit the pages of the Karamanlis Foundation, where quotes from two British PMs are given:

Ίδρυμα Kωνσταντίνος Γ. Kαραμανλής © Copyright 2013
“The British people welcomed and with profound admiration followed the personal achievement of Mr. Karamanlis and his government in restoring democracy to Greece. If there were a Nobel Prize for Democracy, he who should receive it is Konstantinos Karamanlis.“

Harold Wilson
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

 "He became prime minister at a critical moment in his country’s history, and under his wise and steady leadership democracy was re-established and peace was preserved despite the considerable provocations threatening them. He rendered exceptional services to his homeland and to Europe.” 

James Callaghan
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Op-ed article in NY Times refers to Greek junta

In this op-ed article published a few days ago, The Nation's Maria Margaronis uses a couple of references to the Greek Colonels' regime to demonstrate that Greece has reached a boiling point. The author maintains that, while Europe was viewed as a 'source of hope' in the 1960s and 1970s, it is now perceived as 'turning up the heat' in Greece.

Here's the relevant extract from the article:

"The coalition government of New Democracy’s Antonis Samaras is becoming more and more authoritarian, passing laws by decree and pandering to the agenda of the far-right party, Golden Dawn. References to the junta of 1967-1974 are no longer the sole province of left-wing rhetoric.
The sudden closure of the state TV and radio broadcaster ERT last month, without any debate or vote in Parliament, brought back memories of tanks and martial music for many who would normally reject such crude comparisons.
In the seven years of the colonels’ dictatorship, many Greeks looked to Europe as a source of hope. Some of Europe’s civil bodies have indeed come to democracy’s defense. But the European Union’s political and financial institutions and their partners in the International Monetary Fund are interested only in the bottom line, piling on pressure to plug holes in the balance sheet regardless of the cost to human life and civil liberties.
[...]  During the dictatorship, Europe appeared to be a safe place outside the pot.
Now, Europe itself is turning up the heat."

1974 Cypriot coup d'état

Yesterday was the 39th anniversary of the 1974 Cypriot coup d'état.

What follow are small excerpts (taken from my recently published book on Britain and the Greek Colonels) which examines the British reaction to the coup and Whitehall's immediate actions on that day:
"[...] The first reports about outbreaks of fighting in Nicosia reached London on 15 July. According to information gained during the first hours, it was looking ‘increasingly like a coup organised by Greek contingent/Greek-officered elements of National Guard’. The most shocking news appeared to be the alleged death of Archbishop Makarios, broadcast by the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), and conveyed to London by the British high commissioner, Olver.


[...] Callaghan admitted that the treaty gave Britain rights but appeared less urgent to suggest any concrete action as it was too early to judge the situation fully.
[As he told the House of Commons:] We are in the very early hours of this event. It happened only this morning. A declaration has been put out by those who led the coup saying that foreign policy will not change and that Cyprus will maintain friendly relations with all nations while pursuing a policy of non-alignment as happened in the past. I do not know how much reliance at this stage we should attach to any of the declarations that are forthcoming.

[...] In order to help defuse the crisis the foreign secretary prepared a telegram detailing directions to British representatives in Athens, Ankara, Washington, Brussels, and New York. His message to his Greek counterpart expressed his ‘grave concern’ over the situation: ‘[. . . ] it is undoubtedly very dangerous with serious implications for the stability of the Eastern Mediterranean and for the cohesion of the Atlantic Alliance. I am sure you share my concern that the independence, territorial integrity and security of Cyprus should be maintained.
I should be grateful to have urgently your comments on the situation as the Greek Government sees it’.
A similar message was to be delivered to the Turkish capital as well, with the hope that the Turks would avoid ‘any kind of precipitate action or intervention’ at that stage, as it was ‘clearly essential’, if the conflict was not to spread, for the Turkish government to display ‘exemplary patience’ in those circumstances. Washington was to be informed about the content of the two messages, and Dr Kissinger to be approached with an oral message from Callaghan asking his view, any information on action which he might contemplate, and any information on events on the island itself. The British delegation to NATO was asked to invite Dr Luns himself to consider sending messages to the Turks and the Greeks, and the British mission at the UN was told to suggest to Dr Waldheim the convening of an emergency meeting of the contributors to the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP)."

Monday, 10 June 2013

Andreas Papandreou Book review

Cold War History recently published my review of Stan Draenos's very interesting book "Andreas Papandreou: The Making of a Greek Democrat and Political Maverick", which also deals with the Greek politician's role in the events that led to the military coup d'etat of  1967 and the imposition of the Greek Colonels' dictatorship.

You can read the review here (free access for 50 viewers).

Cold War History is based in the Cold War Studies Programme at LSE IDEAS, the London School of Economics Centre for International Affairs, Strategy and Diplomacy. It aims to make available the results of recent research on the origins and development of the Cold War and its impact on nations, alliances and regions at various levels of statecraft, as well as in areas such as the military and intelligence, the economy, and social and intellectual developments.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Golden Dawn leader statement reminiscent of 1960s Greek military dictatorship

The Greek edition of the daily Kathimerini reports that the leader of the far-right party Golden Dawn, which since last year has 18 MPs in the Greek parliament, said that his movement was born 'as sent from God'.

The statement was made last Friday during an event entitled 'Greek History Lessons - The truth about 1821' that took place in a central Athens hotel conference room. 

According to the same source, Golden Dawn also announced the launch of its very own 'Foundation of Geopolitical and Historical Studies'.

See also a recent, relevant entry on The Economist's Charlemagne blog, here.

The statement is reminiscent of the Greek junta's proclamations in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In particular, the reference to God is strikingly similar to one the Greek ambassador in London made while talking to British Foreign Secretary Brown in late 1967 (see p. 26 of my book on Britain and the Greek Colonels):
'[...] as far as both countries are loyal to NATO and the western
orientation of Greece is one of the basic policies, for which Britain has
fought, the revolution [sic] should be considered by the British Government
as a gift from God

 Verykios, London to Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Athens, 12.09.1967.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Former Greek diplomat on possibility of 1967-style coup

Here's a very interesting article based on an interview with a former Greek diplomat.

According to the the New Statesman, 'Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos was a career diplomat with the Greek foreign ministry. As a junior officer with the service in the 1970s, he helped assure the then freshly democratic nation's accession to the European Union (at the time the EEC). He was at different times Athens' ambassador to Poland, Albania and Canada, and finally the director general of EU Affairs in the ministry.'

Chrysanthopoulos - from
Chrysanthopoulos discredited the possibility of a repetition of a military coup (like the one in 1967) in Greece, for the following reason:

There is some good news however that he hears from the contacts he maintains amongst his former colleagues and politicians. He is confident that there will be no military coup, as there was in 1967.
“There are contacts by certain politicians with elements in the armed forces to guarantee that in the event of major social unrest, the army will not intervene.”
“I don't want to go into too much detail here though as it is a delicate issue,” he continues. “But as a result of these contacts, I think this is going to be successful.”

Monday, 18 February 2013

Harold Wilson and Hugh Greene

Today's Daily Telegraph features an interesting opinion article on 'Harold Wilson Night' by the paper's former editor and authorised biographer of Margaret Thatcher, Charles Moore.

Here's an excerpt of the article which refers to Wilson's relationship with BBC Director-General at the time (and head of London-based resistance organisation European Atlantic Action Committee on Greece) Hugh Greene:
No one but the BBC would have dreamt up a “Harold Wilson Night”. It is hard to think of any other politician who was at the top for so long (he won four general elections) with so little to show for it. But it is fitting that the BBC should have commemorated the 50th anniversary of Wilson’s capture of the Labour leadership because, at the time, it loved him.
In the general election of 1964, Wilson spotted that the BBC comedy Steptoe and Son would be broadcast on polling day. Believing that the programme (about father-and-son rag-and-bone men) was particularly popular with Labour voters, and would therefore keep them away from the polling stations, Wilson went to see Hugh Greene, the director-general, to persuade him to reschedule. Greene, who craved a Labour victory, obliged. Since Wilson’s overall majority was only four seats, it is possible that it was the Beeb wot won it.

Saturday, 9 February 2013


Αναφορά στο βιβλίο μου από το διαδικτυακό περιοδικό Θέματα Ελληνικής Ιστορίας:

"Britain and the Greek Colonels: Αccommodating the Junta in the Cold War" το νέο βιβλίο του κ. Αλέξανδρου Ναυπλιώτη

Written By φιλίστωρ Ι. Β. Δ. on 20 Ιανουαρίου 2013 | 1/20/2013 04:46:00 μ.μ.

(Σημ Φιλίστωρος: Μια μελέτη από τον κ. Ναυπλιώτη που μοιάζει ιδιαίτερα ενδιαφέρουσα καθώς καταπιάνεται με ένα θέμα που μου φαίνεται πως δεν έχει αναλυθεί επαρκώς ως τώρα στην βιβλιογραφία, ενώ αξιοποιεί μια σειρά από νέα στοιχεία από Βρετανικά και Αμερικανικά έγγραφα που αποχαρακτηρίστηκαν πρόσφατα. Ελπίζουμε να εκδοθεί και στα Ελληνικά το συντομότερο).
Δρ. Αλέξανδρος Ναυπλιώτης*

Στο βιβλίο αυτό ο Αλέξανδρος Ναυπλιώτης εξετάζει τη βρετανική εξωτερική πολιτική απέναντι στην Ελλάδα, αποκαλύπτοντας μια κυρίαρχη αρχή πραγματισμού πάνω απ'όλα. Αυτή είναι η πρώτη συστηματική μελέτη των σχέσεων της Βρετανίας και της χούντας και βασίζεται σε πρόσφατα αποχαρακτηρισμένα βρετανικά και αμερικανικά έγγραφα, καθώς και σε επίσημες ελληνικές πηγές και προσωπικές συνεντεύξεις με πρωταγωνιστές της εποχής. Το βιβλίο είναι μια ολοκληρωμένη ιστορία διεθνούς διπλωματίας και Realpolitik κατά την περίοδο του Ψυχρού ΠολέμουΤο παρόν βιβλίο εξετάζει την πολιτική των κυβερνήσεων Ουίλσον και Χηθ ως προς την εγκαθίδρυση και την εδραίωση, αλλά και τις πράξεις της στρατιωτικής δικτατορίας που κατείχε την εξουσία από το 1967 έως το 1974. Επίκεντρο της έρευνας είναι οι διπλωματικές, οικονομικές, πολιτισμικές και αμυντικές σχέσεις των δύο παραδοσιακών συμμάχων. Επιχειρεί επίσης να εξηγήσει τους παράγοντες διαμόρφωσης του «διπλωματικού» χειρισμού της ελληνικής υπόθεσης από τη Βρετανία, εξετάζοντας το γενικό πλαίσιο της «αποποίησης του στάτους παγκόσμιας δύναμης» ως συνέπεια της εγκατάλειψης της «πολιτικής στα Ανατολικά του Σουέζ», και τις σχέσεις των δύο χωρών με τις υπερδυνάμεις και τις περιφερειακές δυνάμεις της εποχής, μέσα στο πλαίσιο του Ψυχρού Πολέμου.
Πιο αναλυτικά, το βιβλίο εξετάζει το κατά πόσον γνώριζε το Λονδίνο για το πραξικόπημα της 21ης Απριλίου, καθώς και το βαθμό τυχόν συμμετοχής του σε αυτό, και αναλύει κριτικά τη βρετανική αντίδραση στα σημαντικότερα γεγονότα που έλαβαν χώρα κατά την επταετία· πρόκειται για σημαίνουσες εσωτερικές εξελίξεις (όπως η πρόοδος της αποκατάστασης της δημοκρατίας), καθώς και για τις προσπάθειες των Συνταγματαρχών για νομιμοποίηση στο εξωτερικό, με κύριο όργανο τη δημιουργία επαφών με κομμουνιστικές βαλκανικές και αφρικανικές χώρες, αλλά και τις συνέπειες της ένταξης της Βρετανίας στην ΕΟΚ.

Αναλύεται επίσης η επίδραση που άσκησαν στις ελληνο-βρετανικές σχέσεις τόσο γεγονότα στη Βρετανία, όπως η οικονομική κατάσταση και οι εθνικές εκλογές του 1970 και του 1974, όσο και διεθνή συμβάντα, όπως η κυπριακή και η αραβο-ισραηλινή διένεξη (οι επιπτώσεις των οποίων διακρίνονται ακόμη και σήμερα), η σοβιετική εισβολή στην Τσεχοσλοβακία, και η διαδικασία της Ύφεσης και της Ευρωπαϊκής ενοποίησης. Ακόμη, η μελέτη αυτή εξετάζει την πολιτική της Βρετανίας απέναντι στη Χούντα σε συνάρτηση με το εξαιρετικά σημαντικό ζήτημα της συμμετοχής της Ελλάδας στο ΝΑΤΟ και τον αντίκτυπο που είχε αυτό στις σχέσεις Βρετανίας και ΗΠΑ.

*Ο Αλέξανδρος Ναυπλιώτης είναι Διδάκτωρ διεθνούς ιστορίας του London School of Economics and Political Science. Έχει διατελέσει Επισκέπτης Ερευνητής στο Ελληνικό Παρατηρητήριο του ίδιου πανεπιστημίου και ερευνητής στη Διεύθυνση Ιστορίας Στρατού, ενώ έχει διδάξει επί σειρά ετών ιστορία διεθνών σχέσεων στο LSE. Άρθρα του έχουν δημοσιευθεί σε γνωστές ακαδημαϊκές επιθεωρήσεις και ιστορικά περιοδικά όπως το European Review of History – Revue européenne d’histoire, το Journal of Modern Greek Studies, το European History Quarterly, το Cold War History, το "Δελτίο του Κέντρου Μικρασιατικών Σπουδών", τα "Ιστορικά Θέματα" και άλλα, και έχει βραβευθεί από την Ελληνική Κοινότητα Λονδίνου για τη διατριβή του με θέμα τις σχέσεις Βρετανίας και Ελλάδας την περίοδο της δικτατορίας των Συνταγματαρχών. 

Σχετικοί υπερσύνδεσμοι:

Book featured on LSE website

My book on Britain and the Greek Colonels' regime is featured on the Main page of the London School of Economics and Political Science under 'New books' by LSE academics.

See more information (including a review by Dr Sotiris Rizas), here.

The book is also featured on the webpage of LSE's International History Department.