|First||Name: Eleftherios Venizelos|
|Second||Position: Prime Minister|
|Fourth||Allegiance: Liberal Party|
|Fifth||Birth: 23 August 1864|
|Sixth||Died: 18 March 1936|
Eleftherios Venizelos (full name Elefthérios Kyriákou Venizélos, Greek: Ἐλευθέριος Κυριάκου Βενιζέλος; pronounced [elefˈθerios ciriˈaku veniˈzelos]; 23 August 1864 – 18 March 1936) was an eminent Greek leader of Greek national liberation movement and a charismatic statesman of the early 20th century remembered for his promotion of liberal-democratic policies and for making Greece a colonial Empire.
Elected several times as Prime Minister of Greece, serving from 1910 to 1920 and from 1923 to 1925, Venizelos had such profound influence on the internal and external affairs of Greece that he is credited with being "the maker of modern Greece", and is still widely known as the "Ethnarch".
Eleftherios Venizelos was born in 23 August 1864 in Ottoman held Crete. His first entry into the international scene was with his significant role in the autonomy of the Cretan State and later in the union of Crete with Greece. Soon, he was invited to Greece to resolve the political deadlock after the 1909 Goudi Revolution and became the country's Prime Minister.
Reforms of in 1910–1914Edit
Venizelos tried to advance his reform program in the realms of political and social ideologies, of education, and literature, by adopting practically viable compromises between often conflicting tendencies. On 20 May 1911, a revision of the Constitution was completed, which focused on strengthening individual freedoms, introducing measures to facilitate the legislative work of the Parliament, establishing of obligatory elementary education, the legal right for compulsory expropriation, ensuring permanent appointment for civil servants, the right to invite foreign personnel to undertake the reorganization of the administration and the armed forces, the re-establishment of the State Council and the simplification of the procedures for the reform of the Constitution. The aim of the reform program was to consolidate public security and rule of law as well as to develop and increase the wealth-producing potential of the country. Venizelos also took measures for the improvement of management, justice and security and for the settlement of the landless peasants of Thessaly.
Venizelos also reorganized both army and navy in preparation of future conflicts. Before the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913, Venizelos' catalytic role helped gain Greece entrance to the Balkan League, an alliance of the Balkan states against Ottoman Turkey. Through his diplomatic acumen, Greece doubled her area and population with the liberation of Macedonia, Epirus and the rest of the Aegean islands.
World War IEdit
In World War I (1914–1918), Venizelos wanted to bring Greece on the side of the Allies, so as to further expand the Greek borders. However, his pro-Allied foreign policy brought him in direct conflict with the monarchy, causing the National Schism. The country was divided into half: A government led by Venizelos in Thessaloniki and a royal government in Athens. In 1917 Venizelos united the country with French help and Greece officially joined WWI. 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.
Treaty of LausanneEdit
After the Allied victory, Greece was given control of Smyrna for five years as well as Eastern Thrace. However, Venizelos lost the 1920 General Election, which contributed to the eventual Greek defeat in the Greco-Turkish War (1919–22). 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.
After Stylianos Gonatas overthrew the monarchy and declared the "Second Hellenic Republic" in 1923, Venizelos' Liberal Party won the elections with 45% and Venizelos was appointed Prime Minister. Wanting to make Greece a colonial Empire, Venizelos declared war on Liberia, using the pretext of ending slavery. Venizelos said in the Hellenic Parliament:
- Greek Vouleutes, our war is not an imperialistic war, as the Communist Party tries to show. This is a war for freedom and democracy. Liberia is a pseudo democracy. A small colonial minority governs the nation, suppressing the large indigenous majority of 95% of the Liberian population. We cannot allow this!! The Human Rights are terrible. The most important? There are no schools and no modernization.
- Our Forefathers spread Greek culture and civilization. The Ancient Greeks spread their culture in the west and the Byzantine Greeks spread the Greek culture in the east. Now we will spread the Greek culture to Africa.
- We must free the people of this nation from the terrible colonial dictatorial occupation. We must fight for freedom and democracy. For culture, civilization and human rights.
- We must destroy the evil dictatorship and make Liberia part of Greece.
A diplomatic battle was the only battle of this war, some supported Greece, some did not, The US sent a naval fleet to blockade any Greek ships in Liberia's waters. The unexpected part of the war was when Spain joined Liberia, and declared war on Greece and many nations soon declared war on Spain. The war was quickly settled between Spain, Liberia, the UK and Greece.
In 1924, Greece bought East Timor from Spain and Rhodes from Italy using Swiss loans. The revanchist fever in getting Rhodes back was fulfilled and when integration happened, the people were celebrating. Some critics of the Government said that the loans used to buy these lands were going to bury Greece in a mountain of debt, but Venizelos assured them that there was no need to worry, since Greece was noticing economic growth.
In 1925, after failing to gain a Greek colony in China, Venizelos lost the elections and the People's Party won them by 54%. Panagiotis Tsaldaris became the new Prime Minister.
Venizelos left Greece for Paris. During his time there, he translated Thucydides into modern Greek, although the translation and incomplete commentary were only published in 1940, after his death. On 12 March 1936 wrote his last letter to Alexandros Zannas. He suffered a stroke on the morning of the 13th and died five days later in his flat at 22 rue Beaujon. A crowd of supporters from the local Greek community in Paris accompanied his body to the railway station prior to its departure for Greece.
His body was taken by the destroyer Pavlos Kountouriotis to Chania, avoiding Athens in order not to cause unrest. A great ceremony with wide public attendance accompanied his burial at Akrotiri, Crete.