Thursday, 21 August 2014

Book reviewed in 'Diplomacy & Statecraft'

The latest review of 'Britain and the Greek Colonels' appeared recently in Diplomacy & Statecraft (Volume 25, Issue 2, 2014)

The review is written by Dr Sotiris Rizas (Academy of Athens Modern Greek History Research Centre), author of some of the most well-researched Greek history books on the 1960s and 1970s.

Click here to read the review.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

47 years after the Colonels' coup d'etat

Here are two links (from and BBC Radio 4) on the Greek Military Coup and the resistance to the regime:

1) BBC Radio 4 Witness:

'In April 1967, seven years of military dictatorship began in Greece. During the rule of the colonels, thousands of people were arrested and tortured. 

Sociologist Gerasimos Nortaras was part of the armed resistance to the military. He was captured, but refused to give away his fellow fighters, even under brutal torture."

2) article (in Greek)

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Book reviewed in the Anglo-Hellenic Review

'Britain and the Greek Colonels' reviewed by Dr William Mallinson for the Anglo-Hellenic Review (No 48, Autumn 2013).
Here's an excerpt:

Dr Mallinson is Lecturer in British History, Literature and Culture at the Ionian University, Corfu and has written extensively on Cyprus and British foreign policy towards the island.

You can find his blog here.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

'Britain and the Greek Colonels' reviewed in 'Southeast European and Black Sea Studies'

A review of the book by Dr. Konstantina E. Botsiou was recently published in Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, Vol. 13, No. 4, 2013.

Dr. Konstantina E. Botsiou is an Associate Professor of Modern History and International Politics and Vice Rector for Financial Planning at the University of Peloponnese. 

Here's an excerpt:

'In the mid-1970s, the European Community emerged as a hub organization for the promotion of democracy and the protection of human rights. It was widely considered suitable for the role by virtue of its successful democratization and integration since the Second World War. Contemporary events only reinforced that political image. The Helsinki Final Act of August 1975 reflected a mutual East–West intention of rapprochement based on the respect of territorial integrity and human rights. At the same time, Western Europe was celebrating the restoration of democracy in three Mediterranean countries, Greece (1974), Portugal (1974–1975) and Spain (1975–1976). All three of them hastened to apply for EC-membership right after the collapse of dictatorial rule, clearly linking the stabilization of democratic governance with participation in ‘democratic Europe’. Accordingly, the fulfilment of their integration hopes until the mid-1980s underlined the EC’s willingness to accept the linkage, as was to be verified again a few years later in the European Union’s post-Cold War ‘Eastern enlargement’.
The evolution of Europe to the status of a global player in issues of democracy and human rights renders all the more interesting the investigation of defining moments as well as occasions when either the EC/EU or single European states were confronted with critical dilemmas as to the prioritization of ‘democracy’ in the shaping of foreign policy. Both characteristics apply to the period right before the democratization wave in the South of the 1970s. For quite a few years, historians and political scientists have been chiefly examining the transition to democracy as a manifestation of the expanding influence of pro-European forces. More light needs to be shed, however, on the opposite direction, too; namely on the impact of dictatorial rule upon the democratization agenda of various West European countries and, ultimately, the European Community itself. Such research questions are crucial in Alexandros Nafpliotis’ book titled Accommodating the Junta in the Cold War: Britain and the Colonels.
The title is telling of the author’s aim to analyse the rationale behind Britain’s search of a modus vivendi with the Greek military regime between 1967 and 1974. To achieve this goal, he explores a broad spectrum of London’s international objectives and commitments. According to a central theme of the book – originally a doctoral dissertation concluded at the London School of Economics and Political Science – the military dictatorship in Greece unfolded while Britain was rapidly losing economic strength and political leverage both in Europe as well as in the Eastern Mediterranean. Not surprisingly, national security interests and the centrality of NATO are considered to have far outweighed concerns over the political ‘anachronism’ of the junta. The stability of Greece as a NATO-partner was deemed more necessary than interference in Greek affairs for the sake of democratization. [...]'

SocialistResistance reviews 'Britain and the Greek Colonels'

Here you can read a review of the book by Piers Mostyn:

The review is entitled 'Britain’s smashing of Greek democracy' and was published on 30 December 2013.

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."