Theodoros Pangalos, a former Greek foreign minister known for his undisciplined outbursts and under whose watch Greece suffered one of its most embarrassing foreign policy failures in 1999, has passed away. He was 84 years old.
Pangalos’ family said on Twitter that he “passed away peacefully at home on Wednesday, surrounded by his family and close associates.”
The office of Acting Prime Minister Ioannis Sarmas expressed his condolences, as did other prominent Greek politicians. A statement from Sarmas’ office praised the “dynamic and decisive” former minister who stood out for his “sharp and ample wit”.
Born on August 17, 1938, Pangalos was the grandson of a former Greek military dictator. He studied law in Athens and economics in Paris, was involved in leftist politics and actively opposed the new military regime of 1967–1974.
He became a senior official in the Socialist Pasok party, founded by Andreas Papandreou, which dominated the political scene for most of the 1980s and 1990s, but inherited the country’s financial crisis in 2009 and gradually collapsed along with public finances. Trapped.
It was during the early stages of the crisis, amid deep income cuts, rising unemployment and fierce anti-austerity protests, that Pangalos uttered the phrase for which he will probably be best remembered, and widely reviled. Is.
“The slander of the country’s politicians is answered by those who ask ‘how did you spend the money?’ Is it: ‘We gave you public sector jobs. We all eat from the trough,” Pangalos said in parliament in 2010.
He said, “It was all in a framework of political clientelism, corruption, bribery and the very meaning of politics.”
At the time, he was deputy prime minister in the socialist government of Andreas’ son – George Papandreou – and his comments were condemned as cynical, inappropriate and insensitive. At the same time, his defenders argued that he presented a harsh but largely accurate account of the three decades of Greek politics in which he played an important role.
Pangalos wrote a book called “We All Ate from the Trough”, but has never held public office since 2012.
He had a long history of comments when, as foreign minister in the 1990s, he managed to humiliate Germany – which he compared to a “giant with the brain of a child” – and Turkey, when he Said “thief and rapist”. ,
In January 1996, days after Pangalos became foreign minister, Greece and Turkey came to the brink of war over two uninhabited eastern Aegean Sea islands known as Imia in Greece and Kardak in Turkey. Turkish commandos captured one of them as the navies of both countries converged on the spot, but left under a US-brokered agreement.
A major embarrassment occurred in 1999 when neighboring Turkey’s most wanted fugitive, Abdullah Ocalan, head of the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), was smuggled into Greece without the government’s knowledge. Greece’s foreign ministry made a ham-handed bid to get rid of the hot potato by sneaking Ocalan out of the country and trying to hide him in the Greek embassy in Kenya. The secret was badly kept, and Ocalan was eventually handed over to the Kenyan authorities, ending up on a plane to Turkey where life imprisonment awaited him.
In addition to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pangalos held a succession of government posts including the Culture portfolio under Andreas Papandreou and other PASOK governments.
Centre-right former prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who is expected to win general elections on June 25, praised Pangalos on Wednesday for his “intelligence, cosmopolitanism, humor and courage” as well as his commitment to Greece’s place in the European Union. Appreciated the commitment. As his contribution to the EU accession of Cyprus.
Pangalos is survived by five children. Funeral arrangements were not announced.