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Dr. Karolos Papoulias (Greek: Κάρολος Παπούλιας, [ˈkarolos paˈpuʎas]; born 4 June 1929) has been the President of Greece since 2005. He was the Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1985 to 1989 and from 1993 to 1996.
Private life and family
Papoulias was born in Ioannina and is the son of Major General Gregorios Papoulias. He studied law at the University of Athens and the University of Milan, has a doctorate in private international law from the University of Cologne, and is an associate of the Munich Institute for Southeast Europe. Apart from his native Greek, he also speaks French, German and Italian. A former pole-vault and volley ball champion, Papoulias has been chairman of the National Sports Association since 1985. He is also a founding member and until recently president of the Association for the Greek Linguistic Heritage.
Karolos Papoulias is married to Maria Panou and has three daughters.
Role in PASOK, parliamentary and government offices
Papoulias was a founding member of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) and a close associate of its leader Andreas Papandreou. Since December 1974 he was continually elected to the PASOK Central Committee. He was also member of the Coordination Council, the Executive Bureau and the Political Secretariat, as well as Secretary of the PASOK International Relations Committee from April 1975 to 1985. For a number of years he was also a member of the Coordinating Committee of the Socialist and Progressive Parties of the Mediterranean.
He was first elected to the Greek Parliament in 1977 for Ioannina, and held his seat continuously through the subsequent legislative elections until his 2004 election as President of the Republic. He held several high offices during the PASOK cabinets:
- Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, from 21 October 1981 to 8 February 1984.
- Alternate Minister for Foreign Affairs, from 8 February 1984 to 5 June 1985 and again from 5 June 1985 to 26 July 1985.
- Minister for Foreign Affairs, from 26 July 1985 to 2 July 1989.
- Alternate Minister for National Defence, from 23 November 1989 to 13 February 1990 in the ecumenical government of Xenophon Zolotas .
- Minister for Foreign Affairs, from 13 October 1993 to 22 January 1996.
In the administration of Costas Simitis, he was the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Defence and Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Parliament for a number of years.
Papoulias as Foreign Minister
In the 1980s Papoulias played a key role in trying to reach a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He mediated a safe departure of trapped Palestinian militants and Yassir Arafat from Lebanon on board Greek vessels in 1983.
He created diplomatic relations with the Arab world and achieved, among other things, the normalisation of relations between Greece and Egypt and the establishment of tripartite cooperation between Iran, Armenia and Greece. He held talks with a total of 12 Turkish Foreign Ministers to normalize Greco-Turkish relations. This resulted in the signing of the Papoulias-Yılmaz memorandum in 1988.
He supported Turkey's European aspirations conditional on their respect for international law and European Union values.
In the period 1993–1996 and particularly at the crucial Essen Summit he played an important role in starting accession talks between the Republic of Cyprus and the European Union.
As president-in-office of the European Union and member of the contact group for the former Yugoslavia he worked to bring about a resolution of the crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He signed the Interim Agreement with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, aiming at the establishment of better relations between that country and Greece.
He was very interested in relations between Greece and the Balkan states and it was upon his initiative that the first meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Balkans was organized in Belgrade in 1988. There, he began talks with Bulgaria and the then Soviet Union on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline.
He was responsible for the signing of the protocol of mutual civil and military assistance with Bulgaria in the 1980s. He restored friendly and neighbourly relations with Albania by ending the state of war between that country and Greece.
Papoulias has been supportive of any step towards détente, peace and disarmament e.g. the "Initiative of the Six" for peace and disarmament, the participation of Greece in the Conference on Disarmament and Peace in Europe and in the Conference for the Abolition of Chemical Weapons, his proposals to create a nuclear-free zone in the Balkans and the promotion of the idea of making the Mediterranean a sea of peace and cooperation. The JANNINA 1 tripartite cooperation conference, between Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, was his idea and he was a strong supporter of the Black Sea Conference, which he also chaired.
With his visit to Washington in 1985 and the return visit of Secretary of State George Shultz, he revitalized Greek-American relations which had gone through a delicate phase during the previous years.
Election to the Presidency
On 12 December 2004, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, leader of the governing New Democracy party, and George Papandreou, leader of the PASOK opposition, nominated Papoulias for the presidency, which is chosen by the Parliament. On 8 February 2005, he was elected by 279 of 300 votes to a five-year term. He was sworn in as the 7th President of the Third Hellenic Republic on 12 March 2005, succeeding Konstantinos Stephanopoulos. After securing the support of the two major political parties, he was re-elected to a second and final term on 3 February 2010 with a parliamentary majority of 266 votes.
- Knight Grand Cross with Grand Cordon of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (January 18, 2006)
- Knight Grand Cross of the Grand Order of King Tomislav ("For outstanding contribution to the promotion of friendship and development co-operation between the Republic of Croatia and the Hellenic Republic." – 21 March 2007)
- Knight of the Order of the Elephant
- Knight of the Order of the Seraphim, Sweden 20 May 2008
- "Ζήτησε συναίνεση, κέρασε κρασί" (in Greek). To Vima (Lambrakis Press Group). 4 February 2010. http://www.tovima.gr/default.asp?pid=2&ct=32&artId=313349&dt=04/02/2010. Retrieved 4 February 2010.