CULTURE

Other times, other welcomes: D’Estaing among us again

They set up an archway. The New Democracy government, with the late Constantine Karamanlis as prime minister, arranged a huge welcome for the then French president, Giscard d’Estaing, when he came to Greece in May 1979 to sign the agreement for Greece’s accession to the European Economic Community. «Dear Friends,» said the president in Greek, speaking with the Erasmian pronunciation, and stressing the importance of the slogan «Greece-France-Alliance.» Of all the European leaders, d’Estaing helped Karamanlis the most to get Greece into what was then called the EEC. «The man who got us into Europe,» as the people call him, came back at the invitation of a private company to confer the Leaders of the Year awards, which were brought under the aegis of Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni this year. He himself won the International Leader award. Private television channels showed the award ceremony at the Inter-Continental Hotel, because the leaders ranged from Archbishop Christodoulos to singers Grigoris Bithikotsis and Anna Vissi. True, the arrival of this leading French politician, who is president of the constitutional committee for the European constitution, had its official side. he was received by Greek President Constantinos Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Simitis at Maximos Mansion (see photo), and he met with ND leader Costas Karamanlis, about whose uncle and his days in Paris d’Estaing would have had plenty to say to Karamanlis, who regularly tops polls seeking the future leader of Greece.