Tzannis Tzannetakis

  • Born: September 13, 1927
  • Died: April 1, 2010
  • Location: Athens, Greece


Former Greek Prime Minister dies at 82

The Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece

Former Prime Minister Tzannis Tzannetakis, who led a short-lived coalition government in 1989 while the country was rocked by corruption scandals and political turmoil, has died at 82.

Tzannetakis' office said he died in an Athens hospital Thursday but gave no other details. A statement said he would be buried next week, with the date of the funeral not yet decided.

During his three-month tenure as prime minister, Tzannetakis headed a coalition government that included his conservative New Democracy party and the Greek Communist Party.

Lawmakers from the coalition parties indicted former Socialist Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou on corruption charges.

Papandreou—father of current Prime Minister George Papandreou—was later cleared, and returned to power in 1993 general elections. He died in 1996.

The corruption scandal and Papandreou's indictment marked a bitter rivalry between supporters of the Socialists and conservatives—briefly inflaming tensions generated by decades of political upheaval that had included dictatorship and civil war.

The corruption charges in 1989 alleged Socialist party involvement in a $210 million bank embezzlement scandal that later led to the imprisonment of former banker George Koskotas, who spent 12 years in jail.

Tzannetakis, a mild-mannered former submarine captain in the Greek navy, was born in Gytheio, southern Greece in 1927, the son of a Supreme Court judge. His career in the navy ended abruptly when he resigned from the military in opposition to a 1967-74 dictatorship led by a group of ultra-right army colonels. He was jailed and sent into exile.

Tzannetakis began a 30-year career in politics after the military regime collapsed, as an influential member of the center-right New Democracy. He held several Cabinet posts, including minister of foreign affairs and minister of defense.

"His service to his country, his struggle against the dictatorship, and his efforts for national accord are beyond dispute. This was recognized by every citizen, regardless of party affiliation," current New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras said.

Tzannetakis was survived by his wife and two children.