Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

Βύρων Θεοδωρόπουλος / Viron Theodoropoulos, 1920-2010

Sorry to see that the venerable Greek diplomat Viron Theodoropoulos has died at the age of 90. I only met him once, a few years ago at a conference, but he made a vivid impression: in the late 1970s he had masterminded Greece's negotiations to join the then European Economic Community, and even in his mid-80s he retained a certain rhetorical flair. He liked to point out that he was named after Lord Byron, who is of course spelt Βύρων in Greek.

Over the conference dinner I was teasing Theodoropoulos about Greek foreign policy mistakes of the twentieth century, but he surprised me by agreeing with me vehemently when we got onto Cyprus: "I told the King, your policy is disastrous! It will be bad for Cyprus and very bad for you! The British will never fiorgive you! And when his son had to flee the country ten years later, I knew I had warned them! But it was too late!"

A very junior British diplomat was sitting next to me and, once Theodoropoulos' attention had wandered, he asked me to explain to him why the Greek king's policy on Cyprus might have annoyed the British. I pointed out that in the 1950s the Greeks had been funding and arming EOKA which killed a rather large number of British troops and administrators on the island. (And I'm afraid I didn't quite manage to hide my astonishment that a British diplomat, even a very young one, wasn't aware of this major glitch in Anglo-Greek relations.)

I'm glad to find that Theodoropoulos was still capable of annoying hardliners on this issue as recently as May 2008. He will deservedly rest in peace.
Tags: deaths, world: cyprus
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