Thirty years ago...


THIRTY years ago this month, Greece was experiencing some of the most painful and far-reaching changes in its modern history. On the night of July 23, 1974, a military dictatorship that had ruled the country with its iron fist for more than seven years, collapsed, paving the way for the bloodless restoration of democracy in its birthplace.

It was a catharsis of sorts to a modern Greek drama: Three days earlier, on July 20, Turkey had invaded and occupied the northern third of Cyprus, using as a pretext a coup that on July 15 had violently overthrown the Cypriot President Makarios. It was the last crime the ruthless Greek dictator Dimitris Ioannides committed against both Greece and Cyprus.

The late Greek statesman Constantine Karamanlis was the man who on the night of July 23, 1974, flew from his self-exile Paris home to Athens to take over the abandoned-by-the-junta Greek ship.

The 1974 restoration of democracy, called metapolitefsi in Greek, drew a line in modern Greek history. A disastrous civil war in the 40s and an impaired democracy that since then had nourished the colonels-turned-dictators who killed it in 1967 were left behind the line. On the other side of the line, wounds of a turbulent past did not immediately heal, but stable democratic institutions were established and the post-war political discriminations against the Left had been abolished.

Among those who closely followed those dramatic seven-plus years of Greece's military rule and the rejoicing over its collapse 30 years ago were the foreign correspondents working in this country. Marking this anniversary, the Athens News has asked some of the most prominent among them to offer our readers their account of the events as they witnessed them. Starting today and running throughout this month, Mario Modiano of The Times, Robert McDonald of the BBC, Nick Michaelian of Reuters, Ylva Wigh of the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter and David Glass of Greek-English language newspapers tell their stories to the Athens News.

ATHENS NEWS , 02/07/2004, page: A06
Article code: C13073A061


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