Diary of a Financier

Greece Comes Full Circle: Venizelos II

In Idiosyncrasy on Wed 15 Feb 2012 at 14:08

I’m currently reading Margaret MacMillan’s Paris 1919, a book that chronicles the six month summit in Paris, where world leaders met in the wake of the Great War (World War I) to “shape the peace.” Among the delegates were moguls from our childrens’ history books such as Woodrow Wilson, David Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, John Maynard Keynes, George Clemenceau, Vittorio Orlando, T.E. Lawrence, Mohandas Gandhi, and Ho Chi Minh. They discussed a League of Nations; they redrew boarders; they played God. It was one of those events that was so magnanimous as to resemble more of a Hollywood movie than real-life–especially when considering the resonance of their decisions:

…much of the modern world was sketched out, when countries were created—Iraq, Yugoslavia, Israel—whose troubles haunt us still. [Not to mention a snub of Japan’s “Racial Equality” decree, one of many missteps to prompt World War II hostilities.]

A chapter therein dwells on the Greek delegation, particularly one representative named Eleftherios Venizelos. Mr. Venizelos not only brought the Greeks to the Allies’ side during the war, but he also secured victories for Greece’s national interest at the Paris summit–in defiance of the Greek royal family:

…his pro-Allied foreign policy brought him in direct conflict with the monarchy, causing the National Schism. The Schism polarized the population between the royalists and Venizelists and the struggle for power between the two groups afflicted the political and social life of Greece for decades. Following the Allied victory, Venizelos secured new territorial gains, especially in Anatolia, coming close to realize the “Megali Idea.” Despite his achievements, Venizelos was defeated in the 1920 General Election, which contributed to the eventual Greek defeat in the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922). Venizelos, in self-imposed exile, represented Greece in the negotiations that led to the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne, and the agreement of a mutual exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey.

As I read about Mr. Venizelos, I couldn’t help but notice the parallelisms with a modern figure, in both name and reputation. In fact, I mentioned this other Mr. Venizelos in an entry this weekend:

Now, a major antagonist of a quick bailout settlement, [Greek] Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos has taken note of the resurgent protestors. He remarks:

“We must show that Greeks, when they are called on to choose between the bad and the worst, choose the bad to avoid the worst.”

As it turns out, the two men are not related by blood. Regardless, I find it crazy how Greek interests have come full circle to land in the hands of another man named Venizelos, who I laud by the way.




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