The military government in Greece has collapsed and the former prime minister Constantine Karamanlis has been invited to return.
Huge crowds gathered to greet him at Athens airport and there has been jubilation in the streets of the Greek capital to mark the beginning of a return to democracy.
Conservative Mr Karamanlis, 67, was prime minister for an unprecedented eight years until the centre-left won power in the country’s last democratic election in 1963.
He has been in self-imposed exile in Paris since then but he was one of eight former senior politicians invited to return yesterday by the foundering military leadership.
A military junta led by Colonel Papadopoulos, Colonel Makarezos and Brigadier Pattakos seized power in Greece in April 1967.
They imposed strict controls over the media and judicial system, suppressed any political opposition and dismantled the reforms of the last elected prime minister, Georgios Papandreou.
A spokesman for the Greek armed forces explained the junta’s decision to step down, “in view of the position in which the country finds itself”.
The regime, now controlled by Brigadier Demetrios Ioannidis, has crumbled over the growing crisis in Cyprus following the Turkish invasion two days ago.
The Greek National Guard staged a coup on the island last week to replace elected Greek-Cypriot leader Archbishop Makarios with Nicos Sampson, who fell from power yesterday.
Mr Karamanlis’ return from exile has been welcomed by the Turkish Government – which sent him messages of congratulation, and the Turkish press has hailed him as “Turkey’s friend”.
Former Greek King Constantine – exiled since failing to topple the 1967 coup – has been in talks with British Prime Minister Harold Wilson at 10 Downing Street.
Mr Karamanlis will choose his cabinet tomorrow to include experts and representatives from both leading parties from the 1963 poll.
General Gizikis has said he will remain as Greek President until the new government is running smoothly.
Courtesy BBC News
The monarchy had been abolished in 1973 and in a referendum on the issue later in 1974 Greek voters rejected re-establishing the king and voted for a presidential system.
The Greek republic was founded with a new constitution in 1975.
Constantine Karamanlis was re-elected as prime minister in 1977 with the New Democracy Party he had founded.
He became President of Greece in 1980.
He secured his aim of Greek admission to the EEC the following year.