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24 July 1974: Former prime minister Constantine Karamanlis waves to his friends and the media as he steps out of friend Valery Giscard d' Estaing's presidential jet on the night Greece's seven-year military rule collapsed under the weight of its disastrous blunders. Karamanlis was living in self-imposed exile in Paris since 1963, when his conservative National Radical Union (ERE) lost the elections to George Papandreou's Centre Union. Early in the morning of July 24, general Faedon Gizikis, the figurehead 'president' of the then ruling junta faction headed by reclusive military police chief, brigadier-general Dimitris Ioannides, invited former politicians of the pre-junta era for consultations on the army's intention to hand over power to a civilian government comprising top cadres from the traditional centre and right. The news of the handover plans sparked nationwide enthusiasm as the military rulers had set the country on a war footing in the wake of a full-scale Turkish invasion of Cyprus on July 20, ostensibly provoked by a pro-junta coup in Nicosia which toppled the island-republic's president, Archbishop Makarios. Battles were still raging in the island's north when Greeks took to the streets in all the major cities, celebrating the junta's decision to step down before the war in Cyprus could spill over across the Aegean. But talks in Athens were going nowhere with Gizikis' offer of the mandate to form a government to Panayiotis Kanellopoulos, the last civilian prime minister before the April 1967 army coup. That is when Evangelos Averoff, a close aide of Karamanlis, suggested that only the former rightwing leader could take charge of the domestic situation and negotiate a ceasefire in Cyprus. Averoff knew that Karamanlis was already on his way, and cheering Athenian crowds chanted 'Here he comes!'
Dimitris Yannopoulos


ATHENS NEWS , 22/07/2005, page: A17
Article code: C13140A171


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