A man of discretion and substance

It is a rare thing to come across a person as multifaceted as Nikos Themelis. His was a combination of scientific composure, education, creativity, culture and political intellect coupled with a great sense of humor, at a time when it was already evident that a shortage of such people in Greece was and still is a major problem.

If you add to the aforementioned qualities the proper upbringing and mild manners that defined the man throughout his daily tasks, one can easily be talking about the epitome of the bourgeois man.

Those who never met Themelis might feel that the attribution of so many qualities to one man is an exaggeration. When it comes to Themelis, however, all of the above is true and he proved it during his lifetime.

He came from a bourgeois family of emigres, who supported Eleftherios Venizelos. He had a profound appreciation for his family and felt that it was this environment that nurtured his ability to reflect, to be modest and to think freely. His studies at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Law School and the University of Cologne in Germany also added to this.

Politically active, he contributed to public life with discretion and insight, without ever ignoring the human dimension of every problem. He never sought to be in the limelight and never sacrificed substance to publicity. Nevertheless, recognition came through his remarkable and highly successful writing, which enabled him to gain public recognition, as opposed to his political activities.

Nevertheless, Themelis played a major role in Greek political life. A champion of the European ideal, he felt that a positive present and future for Greece could only be achieved within a European framework. At the same time, he believed that in order for Greece to be accepted and to operate within such a framework it needs to be brought up to speed. He worked alongside Costas Simitis, acting as his closest aid before, during and even after the latter?s tenure as premier, in view of Greece?s modernization and participation in the core of Europe. Never promoting himself, his contribution to Greece?s entry in the eurozone and Cyprus?s accession to the European Union was pivotal.

The death of Themelis leaves a void in both the world of letters and politics. But, he has also bequeathed us with a paradigm of political vision, persistence, honesty, rectitude and mettle, qualities much needed in public life today.