The most complete information guide about Athens, Greece

The enthronement ceremony of King Constantine in the Greek Parliament. March 1964 - Photographic Archives of K. Megalokonomou. - Ekdotiki Athinon, Athens



Post-War Period
The last four decades


The 1970s found the Greek society moving in the maelstrom of the colonels’ dictatorship, who tried to disguise the oppressive regime that they had imposed through strong economic policies (creation of high growth rates). A characteristic of that period was the generous funding of various economic activities, usually in order to secure foreign investments. At the same time, the adoption of a corrupt dominating pattern of economic relations (without giving any emphasis on competition and productivity) created explosive inflationary pressures during the first years of the 1970s.

The international oil crisis of 1973 led to a general increase of goods and a two-figure inflation, which would constitute an inherent phenomenon in Greek economy for decades. High recession affected sectors of activity, such as building and construction, while emigrant and foreign travel exchange had been temporarily reduced along with public investments.

Enormous expenses on heavy military equipment meant that reforms in state infrastructure (e.g. Constantinos Tsatsos, President of the Hellenic Republic from May 1975 until May 1980education, health) became of secondary importance. Conditions in employment did not develop normally during the second half of the decade with unemployment rising, intensifying strikes etc.

In 1975, following a referendum to confirm the deposition of King Constantine II, a democratic republican constitution came into force. Another previously exiled politician, Andreas Papandreou also returned and founded the socialist PASOK party. A new constitution was approved by parliament on 19 June 1975 and Constantine Tsatsos was elected as President of the republic.


November 17, also know as 17N or N17 and named after the Polytechnic uprising against the junta, was formed in 1975. Since the Regime of the Colonels was backed by the United States as part of that country's anti-Communist efforts, this newly-founded terrorist group often attacked American targets.

The group's first attack in December 1975, was directed against the Athens station chief of the CIA, Richard Welch, who was gunned down outside his residence. After the 1983 slaying of Nikos Momferatos, a note was found which stated that Greece "remained a puppet regime in the hands of the American imperialists and the economic establishment".The killing of the British defense attache, Brigadier Stephen Saunders, shot dead in Athens in June 2000, was the last murder by N17

In addition to its anti-American agenda, the group was also opposed to Turkey and NATO. In total, N17 has conducted 19 attacks against U.S. targets and 9 against Turks. However, the majority of the 103 attacks carried out between 1975 and 2002 were directed against right wing Greeks and Greek companies.

One of their most prominent targets was New Democracy member Pavlos Bakoyannis, who was gunned down in Athens in September 1989. Other victims included:

• George Tsantes Jr, Captain in the United States Navy and head of JUSMAGG (Joint
  United States Military Aid Group to Greece), together with his Greek driver, was shot
  dead on 15 November 1983
• on 21 February 1983, Nikos Momferatos, the publisher of the conservative newspaper
  Apogevmatini, was shot in downtown Athens
• one of Tsantes' successors, Captain William Nordeen U.S.N., was killed by a car
  bomb a few meters from his residence, as he drove past by on 28 June 1988
• U.S. Air Force Sergeant Ronald O. Stewart was killed by a car bomb outside his
  residence on 12 March 1991 in an anti-Gulf War protest
• Cetin Gorgu, a Turkish press attaché, was shot in his car on 7 October 1991
• Omer Haluk Sipahioglu, a Turkish Embassy official was shot in an Athens street on
  4 July 1994
• Anglo-Hellenic shipping tycoon Constantinos Peratikos was shot when he was
  leaving his office on 28 May 1997
• Brigadier Stephen Saunders was shot in his car on his way to work on 8 June 2000

By no means, the above list is complete.

In many attacks, N17 used a .38 caliber pistol taken from a policeman killed in 1984 or a .45 M1911 handgun, which became their trademark. Even though face to face assassination was most used by the group as modus operandi, they also used rockets and bombs on over 55 occasions starting with an attack on a Greek police bus in which 14 police men were wounded and 1 was killed.

Alexandros Giotopoulos, the N17 leader, upon his arrestAfter their attack on CIA station chief, Richard Welch in 1975, the group tried to get mainstream newspapers to publish their manifesto but none did so. After subsequent attacks, N17 usually sent a communiqué to the Eleftherotypia newspaper. In this and later communiqués, N17 stated that they wanted to free Greece of U.S. bases, to remove the Turkish military from Cyprus and to sever Greece's ties to the NATO and the European Union.

As no member of the group could be identified or arrested during that period, N17 carried out its attacks unpunished between 1975 and 2002. On 29 June 2002, the GreeXiros Savvas, Dimitris Koufodinas, Christodoulos Xiros and Vasilis Xiros (standing) during the N17 trialk authorities captured Savvas Xiros who was injured following a failed bombing attempt on the Flying Dolphin Company in Piraeus. An investigation led to the discovery of two safe houses and to the arrest of a further six suspects, including two brothers of Savvas. Alexandros Giotopoulos, 58-year-old professor and economist, was identified as the group leader and was arrested on 17 July on the island of Lipsi. On 5 September, Dimitris Koufodinas, who was the group's chief of operations, surrendered to the authorities.

In all, nineteen terrorists were charged with some 2.500 offences relating to the activities of N17. Because of the 20-year statute of limitations, crimes committed before 1984 could not be tried by the court. On 8 December fifteen of the accused, including A. Giotopoulos and D. Koufodinas, were found guilty. Four were acquitted for lack of evidence.

Junta members on trial. Front row (left to right not including the police man): Papadopoulos, Makarezos, Pattakos. Ioannides is on the second row behind PattakosThe convicted members were sentenced on 17 December 2003 with A. Giotopoulos sentenced to 21 life terms, the heaviest sentence in modern Greek legal history. Koufodinas received 13 life terms, Christodoulos Xeros receive 10 life terms, Savvas Xeros six, Vassilis Tzortzatos four and Iraklis Kostaris one. Lesser sentences were imposed for the remaining nine

Also in 1975, 24 members of the military dictatorship appeared before a special court to be sentenced.

Dishonorable discharge and condemned to death
George Papadopoulos
Stylianos Pattakos
Condemned to death
Nikolaos Makarezos
Dishonorable discharge and life imprisonment
Gregory Spandidakis
Antonios Lekkas
Nikolaos Dertilis
Dimitrios Ioannidis
Michael Balopoulos
George Constantopoulos
Theodore Theophiloyannakos
Discharge and life imprisonment
George Zoitakis
Life imprisonment
Ioannis Ladas
Constantine Papadopoulos
Michael Rouphogalis
Dimitrios Stamatelopoulos
Stephanos Karaberis
Dishonorable discharge and 20 years imprisonment
Odysseas Angelis
20 years imprisonment
Petros Kotselis
Nikolaos Gantonas
Constantine Carydas
Evangelos Tsakas
Not guilty
Constantine Aslanidis
Alexander Hadjipetros
The death sentences were later commuted to life imprisonment

The elections of 1977 were won again by New Democracy with 42%. However, with 12% in less than three years, the losses were significant. In these elections the centre, the last pole of the pro-dictatorship two-party system (ERE-EK), collapsed and the radical party of Andreas Papandreou, PASOK, became the main opposition party, gathering 25% of the electorate. Charilaos Florakis’ KKE was the strongest (10%) left party, while the alliance of the smaller leftist parties shrank. In May 1980 Karamanlis was elected President. A few days later, Georgios Rallis succeeded Karamanlis as Prime Minster.

Since the restoration of democracy, the stability and economic prosperity of Greece had grown. Greece joined the European Union as its 10th member in 1981 and adopted the Euro as its currency in 2001. New infrastructure, funds from the EU and growing revenues from tourism, shipping, services, light industry and the telecommunications industry have brought Greeks an unprecedented standard of living.

Papandreou's first government at the oath taking ceremony, (from left to right) K. Simitis, A. Kaklamanis, I. Charalampopoulos, A. Tzohatzopoulos, A. Papandreou, A. Koutsogiorgas, M. Merkouri, G. Gennimatas. October 21, 1981 - Photographic Archives of  K. Megalokonomou, AthensIn the parliamentary elections held on 18 October 1981, Greece elected its first socialist government when the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), led by Andreas Papandreou, won 172 of 300 seats. On 29 March 1985, after Prime Minister Papandreou declined to support President Karamanlis for a second term, Supreme Court Justice Christos Sartzetakis was elected president by the Greek parliament.

Greece had two rounds of parliamentary elections in 1989; both produced weak coalition governments with limited mandates. Party leaders withdrew their support in February 1990, and elections were held on 8 April. New Democracy, led by Constantine Mitsotakis, won 150 seats in that election and subsequently gained two others. After Mitsotakis dismissed Antonis Samaras, his first Foreign Minister, in 1992 Samaras formed his own political party, Political Spring. A split between Mitsotakis and Samaras led to the collapse of the New Democracy government and new elections in September 1993 resulted in Papandreou’s return to power.

Costas Carmanlis became Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic after the elections of March 2004Because of health problems, Papandreou resigned on 17 January 1996. He was replaced as Prime Minister by former Minister of Industry Costas Simitis. Simitis won elections in 1996 and 2000. In 2004 Simitis retired and George Andreas Papandreou succeeded him as PASOK leader. In the March 2004 elections, however, PASOK was defeated by New Democracy, led by Costas Caramanlis, the nephew of the former President.Karolos Papoulias, present President of the Hellenic Republic

On 12 December 2004, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, leader of the New Democracy governing party, and George Papandreou, leader of the PASOK opposition, nominated Karolos Papoulias as for the position of President, which is chosen by the Parliament. On 8 February 2005, he was elected by an overwhelming parliamentary majority of 279 votes to serve a five-year term. He was sworn in as President on 12 March 2005.

TimelineTensions continue to exist between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus and the delimitation of borders in the Aegean Sea but relations have considerably thawed following successive earthquakes, first in Turkey and then in Greece, and an outpouring of sympathy and generous assistance by ordinary Greeks and Turks.



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