Former Greek president passes away at 90

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Greece’s official Athens News Agency says Konstantinos “Kostis” Stephanopoulos, former president of Greece, has died.

Stephanopoulos, 90, had entered a hospital Thursday with pneumonia and his condition deteriorated rapidly. His doctors had released a statement Saturday saying he was suffering from multiple organ failure and was not responding to treatment.

Stephanopoulos was born in Patras. After attending the Saint Andrew school of Patras, he studied law at Athens University. He practiced law from 1954 until 1974 as a member of the Bar Association of Patras.

He first stood for election in 1958, with the National Radical Union and was elected for the first time as Member of Parliament for Achaia in 1964. He was re-elected for the same constituency for New Democracy (ND) in 1974,1977, 1981 and 1985.He served as ND parliamentary secretary and parliamentary spokesman between 1981 and 1985.

In 1974, Stephanopoulos was appointed Deputy Minister of Commerce in the National Unity government of Constantine Karamanlis. For the next seven years he served in a number of ministerial posts in New Democracy governments: Minister for the Interior from November 1974 to September 1976; Minister for Social Services from September 1976 to November 1977; Minister for the Presidency from 1977 to 1981.

In August 1985 he withdrew from the ND and on September 6 of the same year formed the Democratic Renewal (DIANA). He was elected Member of Parliament for Athens in the elections of 1989 while continuing as president of DIΑΝΑ, until it disbanded in June 1994.

In the presidential election of 1995, after being nominated by the conservative party Political Spring and supported by the ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), he was elected President of Greece on March 8, 1995. He became the sixth President since the restoration of a democratic system of government in 1974 and the fifth person to hold the office, winning the election on a third ballot with 181 votes. He was re-elected on February 8, 2000, on the first ballot after receiving 269 votes from the 298 MPs present, and remained in office until March 2, 2005, when he was succeeded by Karolos Papoulias.

As a President he was known for his low-key profile, unifying approach to current and international affairs, and gentlemanlike behaviour. During his presidency, he was consistently the most popular public figure in Greece.

As head of state of the host country, he officially declared the XXVIII Olympiad in Athens open, on August 13, 2004. During those Olympic Games he received the former king Constanine II at the Presidential Mansion. It was the highest political recognition given to the latter since he had been deposed in 1973.

Stephanopoulos died at 23:18 in Henry Dunant Hospital, Athens, on 20 November 2016. He had suffering from fever and severe respiratory difficulty, which later emerged as pneumonia.