Former Greek conservative prime minister Constantinos Mitsotakis, a political heavyweight who boosted the country’s ties with the European Union and promoted free market reforms, died early Monday at the age of 98.
Mitsotakis, honorary chairman of New Democracy, died “surrounded by those he loved,” his family said. The government ordered a state funeral for Mitsotakis, which is to take place in his native Hania on Crete on Thursday, and four days of national mourning. A ceremony is to be held at Athens Cathedral for him tomorrow.
His death prompted a flood of tributes. President Prokopis Pavlopoulos referred to him as a “preeminent political leader.” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras described Mitsotakis as “one of the main protagonists of our modern political history… who contributed decisively to consolidating democracy and the country’s European course.” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called him as “a dedicated European” and “one of the emblematic figures of Greek political life.”
Mitsotakis’s son Kyriakos, leader of ND, posted a message on Facebook with a childhood photograph, saying “thanks for everything,” while his daughter Dora Bakoyannis, a prominent ND MP, said “my father had the courage to speak truths, difficult truths as society was not ready to hear them.”
The nephew of liberal statesman Eleftherios Venizelos, Mitsotakis was prime minister between 1990 and 1993 during two decades of Socialist rule. He left politics in 2004 but remained honorary chairman of ND.
After lobbying for economic reforms while in government, he warned in a speech in Parliament in 1994 that Greece “cannot bear the burdens and deficits and it will not be long before Greece will no longer be able to borrow and will go pleading to the IMF.”