Greek Prime Minister Karamanlis to Deliver Tufts University Commencement Address

by HCS Staff

The prime minister of Greece, Kostas Karamanlis will deliver the commencement address at Tufts University’s graduation on May 22, following Congressional and White House visits in Washington. He is scheduled to meet with Vice President Cheney and President Bush on Thursday, May 20, then with the House Foreign Relations and International Relations Committees.

Tufts University President Lawrence Bacow has said of the Greek prime minister, one of Tufts' most distinguished alumni, "Prine Minister Karamanlis is one of Europe's most dynamic leaders and a rising star on the global political stage. His international perspective, commitment to public service and leadership are all qualities our students, faculty and staff hold in the highest regard."

After leading his Nea Demokratia party to victory in March 2004, Karamanlis, 48, became the youngest person elected prime minister in modern Greek history. Calling his election to office “the start of a new era,” Karamanlis, a 1982 graduate of the Fletcher School, has made the establishment of Greece as the Mediterranean’s primary economic hub one of his top priorities. He has also initiated broad education and health reforms. Just five months after taking office, Karamanlis presided over the 2004 Summer Olympics, which returned to Greece for the first time in a century.
"Our goal is to serve the collective interest responsibly with diligence and effectiveness....we are servants of our fellow citizens, not their rulers....anyone who has not fully comprehended this is foreign to our mission." Costa Karamanlis

The prime minister
was born on 14 September 1956 in Athens. He graduated from Athens University's Law School in 1979 and then studied economics at the private Deree College in Agia Paraskevis. He holds a master's degree in political science and economics and a PhD in diplomatic history, both from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in the United States, where he studied from 1980 to 1984. Karamanlis practised law from 1984 to 1989 and taught political science, diplomatic history and corporate law at Deree College between 1983 and 1985. His uncle and namesake, former Greek Prime Minister and President Constantine Karamanlis, founded New Democracy Party (ND) in 1974 after the was called back to Greece from Paris to lead a civilian government after the fall of the Junta. The elder statesman was also the prime force behind Greece's entry to the European Economic Community.

In 1994 Kostas was elected to the party central committee and in 1997 rose to the post of party leader, the youngest major party leader in Greek history. In 1999 he became vice-president of the European People's Party (EPP) and n June 2002 was elected vice president of the International Democrat Union during the summit of the centre-right and Christian Democrat parties in Washington. In March of 2004 his New Democracy Party won the elections over George Papandreou's PASOK party. Costa Karamanlis has a reputation as an astute politician. He is the youngest prime-minister in the history of Greece, speaks fluent English, German and French and is married to Natasa Pazaitis and has twin girls.

Karamanlis also will be awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree at Tufts, being joined by an accomplished group of honorary degree recipients. No stranger to the campus following his doctoral studies, Karamanlis also delivered a major address there upon the establishment of the Konstantinos Karamanlis Chair in Hellenic and Southeastern European Studies in 2001. But for Greek and Greek-American students at Tufts, the presence of Karamanlis at commencement is incomparable, a once-in-lifetime experience. As one Greek mother had stated, "As Greeks we're very proud to have Prime Minister Karamanlis speak at our son's graduation at Tufts. This is a very important and memorable occasion for all of us. Our son will remember this for the rest of his life."

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